The Frozen Assets of Russian Oligarchs Becomes a Financial Burden for the Government of Italy
After the European Union froze $ 250 million in assets of Russian businessmen, the Italian government faced several problems. According to the Washington Post article, the main challenge of the country today is to manage the frozen villas of the Russians, which is quite expensive. There is also the question of what function the empty villas can acquire.
By law, the Italian government is obliged to preserve the frozen assets of the Russians. Theoretically, Italy can use Russian bank accounts to maintain their property, but, as the WP writes, not enough money is stored in the accounts to do it. The University of Valencia Sanctions Specialist even says that the European government has very little experience with assets of this value because most of the people sanctioned in the EU had not previously earned significant capital in Europe.
At the same time, the Italian government says that if their management becomes too expensive, frozen assets could be sold, which is likely to cause new problems, and the Russians may appeal the decision in court.
Italy has frozen at least eight villas belonging to three Russian businessmen on the northeast coast of Sardinia, known as the Emerald Coast. The most famous Russian billionaire here is Alisher Usmanov, who has been living in Sardinia for a long time. He also invested money in local charity, for which he was awarded the status of an honorary citizen in 2018. According to Usmanov’s spokesman, the maintenance of four villas costs hundreds of thousands of dollars a year. In addition, he told reporters that Usmanov considered the sanctions imposed by the EU unreasonable, and in April the billionaire even filed a lawsuit in court to lift the sanctions.
In addition to the cost of frozen real estate, Sardinia is also a problem for locals, as the emerald coast here is not as touristy as Mykonos or Ibiza and comes to life in July and August, only a few weeks, which is the time when wealthy visitors arrive on the island. For the rest of the year, it loses its relevance.