Brussels, 8 June 2022
The Commission and Member State tax authorities have set up a subgroup on tax enforcement in the ‘Freeze and Seize’ Task Force steered by Commissioner Reynders to step up their efforts against sanctioned Russians and Belarusians individuals and companies, as well as their associates.
This subgroup will help unearth possible tax crimes and recover unpaid taxes, while facilitating the implementation of EU sanctions. In particular, it will check for the presence of sanctions-listed persons and entities in tax files; intensify or undertake new tax audits or investigations regarding such persons and entities; share information on those persons and entities with each other and with third countries within the boundaries of existing tax law frameworks; increase screening efforts on tax refunds and repayments to avoid any circumvention of the asset and fund freezes laid down in EU sanctions regulations; and ensure a high level of vigilance regarding any intermediary acting for such persons and entities in view of the already existing prohibition to offer certain services to trusts and similar legal arrangements. The ‘Freeze and Seize’ Task Force was set up by the Commission in March to ensure the efficient implementation of the EU sanctions against listed Russian and Belarussian individuals and companies across the EU.
The Task Force coordinates actions by EU Member States, Eurojust, Europol and other agencies as regards the seizing and, where national law allows for it, the confiscation of assets of Russian and Belarussian oligarchs. It is also looking into how to use any confiscated assets to help rebuild a stronger Ukraine for the next generation, an initiative discussed and supported by the EU leaders in the European Council conclusions of 30-31 May 2022.
So far, the frozen assets of Russian oligarchs amount to €10 billion, in addition to €196 billion worth of blocked transactions. In May, the Commission proposed to strengthen the implementation of the EU sanctions by adding the violation of EU sanctions to the list of EU crimes and by reinforcing the current rules on asset freezing and confiscation.