Whitehouse-Graham Amendment to Transfer Liquidated Russian Oligarchs’ Assets to Aid Ukraine Clears Senate
Washington, D.C. – One day after Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy addressed a joint meeting of Congress, U.S. Senators Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) offered an amendment to the FY2023 government spending bill to help ensure Putin and his corrupt oligarchs pay for the reconstruction of Ukraine. The amendment was added to the appropriations bill by voice vote. The appropriations bill passed the Senate yesterday on a bipartisan 68 to 29 vote.
The Whitehouse-Graham amendment would allow the U.S. Attorney General to transfer to the State Department the proceeds from the sale of forfeited assets – from persons subject to sanctions for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and related crimes – in order to provide foreign assistance to Ukraine, with oversight and reporting requirements to Congress.
“President Zelenskyy’s address this week was a reminder of what Senator Graham and I have believed from the earliest days – victory for Ukraine can be achieved with our continued support. My amendment with Senator Graham gives the Biden administration authority to transfer the proceeds from recovered Russian oligarch assets back to the victims in Ukraine. It unlocks billions of dollars for the Ukrainian people to rebuild their schools, hospitals, homes, and critical infrastructure that Putin’s military has destroyed – all at no cost to the American taxpayer,” said Senator Whitehouse. “Thank you also to Senators Blumenthal and Bennet and Representatives Malinowski and Wilson for helping us get this provision over the finish line.”
“I’m very pleased the Senate unanimously adopted my amendment with Senator Whitehouse to allow assets seized from sanctioned Russian oligarchs and entities supporting Putin to be used to the benefit of the Ukrainian people,” said Senator Graham. “This change in U.S. law allows the proceeds of seized assets to support Ukrainian war efforts, which is a win-win for the people of Ukraine and the American taxpayer. I expect over time billions of dollars in seized assets will be sent to help Ukraine in their fight for freedom. Our amendment also takes pressure of the American taxpayer.”
The Whitehouse-Graham measure fulfils a request to Congress from the Biden Administration for authority to transfer the proceeds of liquidated ill-gotten assets from malign Russian actors to Ukraine in the form of U.S. foreign assistance. President Zelenskyy has called on countries involved in counter-kleptocracy efforts – like the United States through the Department of Justice’s KleptoCapture Task Force – to authorize such transfers.
The measure would provide Ukraine with aid – without appropriating additional taxpayer dollars – courtesy of Russian oligarchs who have supported the illegal Russian war effort. This amendment would not expand asset forfeiture law, nor would it apply to the assets of U.S. persons.
Whitehouse and Graham are the co-leaders of the annual Munich Security Conference Congressional Delegation, where support for congressional efforts to hold Putin and his corrupt oligarchs accountable for their brutal war was first forged.
A PDF of the amendment can be found here.
Meaghan McCabe, (401) 453-5294
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