In principle, if you only freeze an asset it will return to the owner at some point; if it's seized, they lose it forever," said Tom Keatinge, the director of the Centre for Financial Crime and Security Studies at the Royal United Services Institute. While the US has long-standing laws to tackle sanctions evasion and seize assets, he says authorities in London and Brussels are "struggling to design legal mechanisms" that will allow them to seize assets that have initially been frozen.
For many Russian oligarchs, their superyachts have long been their most prized assets. But when Vladimir Putin ordered the invasion of Ukraine, some of those superyachts became targets for an unprecedented set of sanctions launched by the West. Many yachts were seized or detained, others tried to escape in a hurry and some seemingly disappeared. With an exclusive interview with the head of the US KleptoCapture Task Force, Our World tells the inside story of the game of cat and mouse between some of the world’s most powerful nations and some of Russia’s richest men.