Belgium freezes 50 billion euros in Russian funds
2 August 2022
Belgium has frozen 50,5 billion euros worth of funds belonging to people, companies and other legal persons who had financial sanctions imposed on them after the Russian invasion of Ukraine. This amount is much higher than what was known so far. The last time our country published figures, in April, the total was 3,5 billion. Francis Adyns, spokesman of the Federal Public Services (FPS) for Finance, confirmed this to De Tijd on Tuesday.
The 50,5 billion euros in frozen funds includes all kinds of financial assets such as money and shares, which are located in Belgium and belong to the 1.229 people and 110 other entities - such as Russian politicians, oligarchs, banks and companies - that were subject to financial sanctions. Some of these sanctions have been in place since Russia's annexation of Ukraine's Crimea peninsula in 2014, but the majority were introduced after the invasion of Ukraine in February.
Adyns is not allowed to clarify which sanctioned individuals or companies have had their assets frozen. The latest sanctions packages have added several banks to the list, such as Sberbank, Russia's largest bank, and VTB Bank, one of the largest banks in Russia with the state as its largest shareholder.
In addition, our country as an important international financial hub, with institutions such as the securities giant Euroclear in Brussels, has blocked 217,1 billion euros in transactions.
The more than 50 billion euros that Belgium has frozen is a surprisingly high amount. Three weeks ago, European Commissioner for Justice Didier Reynders announced that in the entire European Union at that time, 13,8 billion euros in assets were frozen. Reynders then indicated that over 12 billion had been frozen by five Member States, without specifying which ones. In our country alone, the amount now appears to be considerably higher.
In addition, our country as an important international financial hub, with institutions such as the securities giant Euroclear in Brussels, has blocked 217,1 billion euros in transactions since the war in Ukraine started.
Other European countries have already seen spectacular 'captures' of luxury yachts and lavish estates belonging to oligarchs close to Russian president Vladimir Putin. According to the FPS for Finance, no real estate has yet been targeted in Belgium.
© PHOTO Jure Makovec / AFP