04.28.22

Whitehouse Welcomes Biden Plan to Seize Oligarch Assets to Supply Aid to Ukraine, Pledges to Lead Congressional Efforts to Pass Necessary Authority

Senator’s bipartisan Asset Seizure for Ukraine Reconstruction Act would deliver on pillars of Biden plan

Washington, DC – Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) hailed President Biden’s proposal released today to boost the federal government’s authority to hold Vladimir Putin, the Russian government, and Russian oligarchs accountable for the unprovoked war against Ukraine, which includes as a central component Whitehouse’s proposal to seize oligarch assets and use the proceeds of their sale for aid to Ukraine.

Whitehouse introduced his bipartisan Asset Seizure for Ukraine Reconstruction Act in March with Senators Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), and Roger Wicker (R-MS), with Representative Tom Malinowski (D-NJ) and Joe Wilson (R-SC) having introduced a House version. The House has since passed a version of the bill. Whitehouse announced plans today to move forward with new legislation to provide President Biden with the authority he is requesting.

“I am thrilled the Biden administration has come out forcefully in favor of our bipartisan proposal,” Whitehouse said. “Putin and his oligarchs should be held to account for their unprovoked aggression against a peaceful neighbor, and the United States—as a leader of the transatlantic alliance and a beacon for democracy and rule of law—should take a more active role in that mission. Atop the list of requests from the President is streamlined authority for the seizure of assets, and the power to move proceeds from the sale of those assets to help Ukraine recover from the devastation of the war. That’s exactly what my colleagues and I have been pushing for here in Congress. The House passed companion legislation to my bill that will advance these goals, but there is much more to do. In the days ahead, I will work with the Biden team and my bipartisan group here in Congress to achieve the objectives our Munich ‘McCain’ delegation outlined in February—to assure that the dictator Putin and his corrupt oligarchs pay a devastating price for their aggression.”

Days before Russia’s attack on Ukraine in February, Whitehouse and Graham led their annual congressional delegation to the Munich Security Conference—the same delegation the late Senator John McCain (R-AZ) led each year. At the conference, Whitehouse and Graham organized a joint statement from delegation members pledging to assure Putin and his oligarchs pay a devastating price for an attack on Ukraine.

Whitehouse, Graham, Blumenthal, and Wicker’s legislation would enable the president to declare an emergency upon finding that Russia is engaged in hostilities against Ukraine, unlocking the federal government’s authority to confiscate funds or property from sanctioned Russians or foreigners linked to the Russian government. The funds derived from seizure and sale of oligarch assets would go toward post-conflict reconstruction in Ukraine, humanitarian assistance, military assistance for the armed forces of Ukraine, supporting refugees and their resettlement, or technology and services to ensure the free flow of information to the Ukrainian people.

Senator Whitehouse is a recognized leader in the fight against kleptocracy and international corruption. He is the Chair of the Senate Caucus on International Narcotics Control, a senior member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and a member of the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe (or the Helsinki Commission). He was a lead author of the groundbreaking 2020 law to collect beneficial ownership information to aid U.S. law enforcement in cracking down on money laundering. He has also authored a range of bills to combat international corruption and illicit finance, including the Rodchenkov Anti-Doping Act signed into law last year to fight corruption in international sport.

READ WHITEHOUSE’S OP-ED: Seize Russian yachts, jets and Picassos. Then use the money to help Ukraine.

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