March 16, 2022

Whitehouse Cheers Launch of Multinational Task Force to Help Seize Assets from Putin and Oligarchs

Senate leader in the fight against corruption and kleptocracy advocated to establish the task force, and for increased funding for DOJ’s asset seizure activities

Washington, DC – Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), a Senate leader in the fight against kleptocracy and corruption abroad, applauded the launch today of the Russian Elites, Proxies, and Oligarchs (REPO) multilateral task force to coordinate several rule-of-law nations’ efforts to seize Russian President Vladimir Putin and his oligarchs’ assets. The senator also cheered the Treasury Department’s launch of the Kleptocracy Asset Recovery Rewards Program, which offers reward payments for information leading to seizure, restraint, or forfeiture of assets linked to corrupt foreign governments, such as Putin’s kleptocracy in Russia.

“Rule-of-law nations face a difficult challenge in tracking down and seizing Putin and his oligarchs’ dirty assets – assets that are carefully hidden using shell companies, tax havens, and other tricks. Successfully tracking those assets demands lots of coordination with our partners, which is why I pushed for a task force like this one,” Whitehouse said. “I applaud the Biden administration on its leadership in standing up this effort, and I’m pleased to see the Justice and Treasury Departments leading the way. This cooperation shows the strength of the transatlantic alliance and our collective resolve to hold Putin’s corrupt regime accountable. I’m also glad Treasury established an asset recovery program to provide a strong incentive for people to help in the search for oligarch wealth.”

The United States, Australia, Canada, Germany, France, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the European Commission announced the formation of the REPO task force in late February; the group met for the first time today. Whitehouse advocated for the creation of the task force, and fought successfully to boost funding in the recent emergency supplemental funding legislation to help the Department of Justice seize assets from Vladimir Putin and his oligarchs and crack down on violations of Russian sanctions.

This week, Whitehouse introduced bipartisan legislation to enable the seizure and sale of Russian oligarchs’ assets to support humanitarian efforts in Ukraine. His bill also authorizes cash rewards administered by the Treasury Department for people who provide information leading to the confiscation of assets, or to any nonprofit humanitarian organization that identifies ill-gotten assets for seizure. The reward program would be permanent, unlike the temporary program currently in place at Treasury.

In February, Whitehouse and Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) led a delegation of more than two dozen members of Congress to the Munich Security Conference, the world’s major global forum for the discussion of security policy. Whitehouse is also a member of the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe (the Helsinki Commission).

Rich Davidson (202) 228-6291 (press office)

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