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Poppy Ogier

Communications and Research Manager

Poppy joined the Foreign Policy Centre in 2019. Her previous roles include working in direct outreach, and project design and development for various non-profits and international organisations with a focus on migration. She has a Masters in Post-war Recovery Studies from the PRDU, University of York that focused on the influence of digital humanitarians on the response to the refugee and migrant crisis in Greece.

Array ( [0] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 7359 [post_author] => 63 [post_date] => 2024-02-26 13:02:42 [post_date_gmt] => 2024-02-26 12:02:42 [post_content] => In the two years since Russia’s unlawful invasion of Ukraine, policymakers in the Western block have made big statements of their intention to seize Russian oligarchic wealth in their countries. Sanctions were rolled out quickly to freeze assets. It was thought that their confiscation would come just as nimbly. Experts were, however, quick to point out that confiscation was going to be an uphill and lengthy battle.[1] The most obvious solution, devising a new mechanism that would allow the seizure of sanctioned assets within the boundaries of the law and in full respect of human rights, needed time and skilled researchers. However, political interest, and with it funding for research, ran out quickly. Despite this, proposals on how to break the deadlock on asset recovery have been made. First, it was suggested to focus on sanctions evasion as a short-term route for confiscation, albeit with limited scope, given it would only allow for confiscation where sanctions evasion is proved.[2] Supporting this approach, in early February this year, the UK government announced new reporting obligations for sanctioned individuals to disclose their UK assets, making it easier to tackle sanctions evasion attempts.[3] It is a little early to claim victory, but it’s a step in the right direction. Still, the UK response remains far from ideal. While confiscations have started appearing in the US, the UK’s Combatting Kleptocracy Cell is yet to announce a high-profile case.[4] Upgrading the overall asset recovery response is also required.[5] After all, the oligarchs’ wealth has notoriously been amassed through corrupt practices. Enhancing the ability to recover the proceeds of crime would be a sensible move. Two Economic Crime Acts later, one of which included amendments to the Unexplained Wealth Orders (UWOs) regime, no significant case has been initiated against any high-level sanctioned kleptocrat, and law enforcement remains largely under-resourced to meet the challenge. With sanctions and asset recovery not doing the trick, a voluntary donation route has been proposed. But even there, rhetoric and reality mismatched. Last June, the UK Government promised a route for sanctioned oligarchs to donate their frozen funds for Ukrainian reconstruction.[6] Since then, neither the route, nor an oligarch offering to donate has appeared. Even the much-anticipated sale of Chelsea FC, the result of an agreement between Abramovich and the UK Government, has stalled – provoking the ire of the House of Lords.[7] While the UK has taken every opportunity for inaction, Ukraine has kept itself busy. As a country at war, Ukraine has developed and employed three distinct mechanisms for asset seizure: confiscation via sanctions, forcible seizure of objects of property rights of the Russian Federation and its residents, and confiscation within the criminal proceeding framework.[8] The forcible seizure mechanism is currently being applied against the financial assets of Ukrainian subsidiaries of bank Sberbank.[9] Meanwhile, the High Anti-Corruption Court has issued 34 decisions on seizure of the assets of Russian oligarchs.[10] Ukraine's confiscation mechanisms may potentially result in contested cases in international arbitration. They also represent an exceptional scenario, given Ukraine is currently under martial law. However, they are a good reminder of the benefit that recovered assets could bring to Ukraine’s cause. It seems that it is not just the oligarchs’ assets that are frozen in limbo; the Western asset recovery response is too. If at the beginning the legal difficulties of moving ‘from freeze to seize,’ and the lack of understanding of the issue by policymakers, could be blamed, now these seem just an excuse for inaction. Western governments had all the opportunities to act. Whether by tackling sanctions evasion, funding research to develop new legislation, strengthening existing asset recovery mechanisms against any kind of kleptocratic wealth, or encouraging voluntary donations to materialise – the options to confiscate these assets are many. In the words of the House of Lords, this ‘reflects poorly’ on Western governments, and the UK in particular.[11] What is needed now is for rhetoric and reality to meet. Not all is lost: the sanctioned oligarchs’ pot is still there, albeit slightly depleted by their attempts to evade sanctions. The options mentioned above are all still viable and are not mutually exclusive – now it is up to governments to listen and act. This year, different countries will undergo election processes. While the focus will inevitably shift to domestic issues, it is important that support for Ukraine, and long-term commitments to sustain its reconstruction, remain high on the agenda – if oligarchs pay, taxpayers that have been supporting Ukraine will feel some relief. Despite the complexities involved, asset confiscation still stands as one of the tangible means of bolstering Ukraine's pursuit of freedom. Maria Nizzero is a Research Fellow at the Centre for Financial Crime and Security Studies at RUSI. She is a member of the Financial Crime Policy Programme, which tracks the implementation and evolution of anti-financial crime policy both in the UK and globally. Oksana Ihnatenko is a Researcher for the SMURF project at the Centre for Financial Crime and Security Studies at RUSI. [1] Maria Nizzero, From Freeze to Seize: How the UK Can Break the Deadlock on Asset Recovery, RUSI, October 2022, https://rusi.org/explore-our-research/publications/commentary/freeze-seize-how-uk-can-break-deadlock-asset-recovery[2] Maria Nizzero, Sanctioned oligarchs should have to list their UK assets, The Times, February 2023, https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/sanctioned-oligarchs-should-have-to-list-their-uk-assets-lqprkw3fs[3] Giles Thomson, New reporting requirements for Designated Persons under the Russia Regime, Office of Financial Sanctions Implementation, Gov.uk, February 2024, https://ofsi.blog.gov.uk/2024/02/12/new-reporting-requirements-for-designated-persons-under-the-russia-regime/[4] RFE/RL’s Ukrainian Service, U.S. Attorney General Allows First Transfer Of Russian Oligarch’s Confiscated Assets To Ukraine, RFE/RL, February 2023, https://www.rferl.org/a/ukraine-russia-malofeyev-transfer/32255371.html[5] SOC ACE Research Programme, How to Seize a Billion: Exploring Mechanisms to Recover the Proceeds of Kleptocracy, RUSI, March 2023, https://rusi.org/explore-our-research/publications/external-publications/how-seize-billion-exploring-mechanisms-recover-proceeds-kleptocracy[6] FCDO, HM Treasury, Home Office, The Rt Hon Suella Braverman KC MP, The Rt Hon Jeremy Hunt MP, and The Rt Hon James Cleverly MP, New legislation allows Russian sanctions to remain until compensation is paid to Kyiv, Gov.uk, June 2023, https://www.gov.uk/government/news/new-legislation-allows-russian-sanctions-to-remain-until-compensation-is-paid-to-kyiv[7] Kiran Stacey, ‘Incomprehensible’ that Abramovich’s Chelsea funds not yet spent on Ukraine, The Guardian, January 2024, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2024/jan/31/incomprehensible-roman-abramovich-chelsea-proceeds-still-not-spent-to-help-ukraine; House of Lords European Affairs Committee, Call for UK and Eu to continue support for Ukraine, and sanctions on Russia, UK Parliament, January 2024, https://committees.parliament.uk/committee/516/european-affairs-committee/news/199672/call-for-uk-and-eu-to-continue-support-for-ukraine-and-sanctions-on-russia/[8] The Law of Ukraine, About sanctions (Reports of the Verkhovna Rada (VVR), 2014, No.40, Article 2018), https://zakon.rada.gov.ua/laws/show/1644-18#Text; The Law of Ukraine, About the main principles of forced seizure in Ukraine of objects of property rights of the Russian Federation and its residents, https://zakon.rada.gov.ua/laws/show/2116-20#Text[9] National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine, Decision from May 11, 2022, https://zakon.rada.gov.ua/laws/show/n0006525-22#n2[10] Higher Anti-Corruption Court, Decisions in administrative cases (Part 7 of Article 283-1 of the Code of Administrative Procedure of Ukraine), https://hcac.court.gov.ua/hcac/gromadyanam/administrative_judgments[11] House of Lords European Affairs Committee, Call for UK and EU to continue support for Ukraine, and sanctions on Russia, UK Parliament, January 2024, https://committees.parliament.uk/committee/516/european-affairs-committee/news/199672/call-for-uk-and-eu-to-continue-support-for-ukraine-and-sanctions-on-russia/ Disclaimer: The views expressed in this piece are those of the authors and do not reflect the views of The Foreign Policy Centre. [post_title] => Legal impasse or excuse for inaction? The state of play in the efforts to seize oligarchs’ assets [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => legal-impasse-or-excuse-for-inaction-the-state-of-play-in-the-efforts-to-seize-oligarchs-assets [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2024-02-26 13:05:09 [post_modified_gmt] => 2024-02-26 12:05:09 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://fpc.org.uk/?p=7359 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw )[1] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 7057 [post_author] => 63 [post_date] => 2023-09-12 14:26:30 [post_date_gmt] => 2023-09-12 13:26:30 [post_content] => The G20 leaders met over the weekend, 9-10th September 2023, and reached a consensus on a joint declaration, but not without differing views on the war in Ukraine and climate change.[1] Despite the compromises needed on these areas, India’s leadership surpassed expectations and solidified Modi’s aim of being a leading voice for the Global South.[2] Key takeaways from the two-day Summit: ‘Different views and assessments of the situation’After 300 bilateral meetings, “over 200 hours of non-stop negotiations” and 15 drafts, consensus on the paragraphs concerning Russia and Ukraine were reached in the final G20 communiqué.[3] These paragraphs avoided direct criticism of Russia, instead it focussed on the inadmissibility of nuclear weapons, the agreements that states cannot grab territory by force, and highlighted the human suffering this conflict has caused, and continues to cause. Reference was also made in particular to Turkey’s efforts to broker safe passage for ships moving grain. ‘Creating a more inclusive world’The weekend’s formal proceedings opened with India welcoming the African Union (AU) as a permanent member of the G20. It will hold a similar position to the European Union (EU) and further signals India's support for giving a greater voice to the Global South.[4] President Ramaphosa was a strong advocate for the AU’s membership at the last G20 Summit in Bali, Indonesia, until this point South Africa had been the only G20 permanent member from the African continent with the AU being only an invited guest. It will be interesting to follow the changes in the G20 as it becomes more globally balanced, especially with the leadership baton passing to Brazil before South Africa takes over the Presidency in 2025. ‘Impacts of climate change’There was a recognition of the impacts of climate change and the need to accelerate action on it, with leaders referencing the need to limit warming to 1.5°C by reducing greenhouse gas ‘emissions by 43% by 2030 relative to the 2019 levels.’[5] Notably, for the first time leaders agreed to triple renewable energy capacity globally by 2030, but through existing targets and policies. They also indicated the need to ‘phase-down’ the use of coal power, noticeably not a ‘phase-out’. On both issues the leaders stopped short of setting goals or laying out plans or pathways to achievement. Additionally, the use of language around coal was a continuation of previous statements, which is unlikely to see a significant shift at the COP28 Summit starting this November in the United Arab Emirates. India-Middle East-Europe Economic Corridor (IMEC)On the sidelines of the Summit, IMEC was announced - a ship-to-rail transit network - by leaders of the United States (US), India and Saudi Arabia. This marks a change in US-Saudi relations, as well as an ambitious counter to China’s Belt and Road Initiative. This modern-day ‘Spice Route’ would connect India, the Middle East and Europe by laying down railway lines and investing in ports, starting in the Middle East and South Asia before Europe. No further details on financing have been announced, but this is a significant move by Biden in ensuring the US’s interests and putting itself forward as an alternative partner to China, especially when taking into account the US elections next year. The UK at the G20The major announcement from the UK at the G20 was the Prime Minister’s (PM) commitment to climate aid with the UK set to provide $2 billion to the Green Climate Fund, a global fund committed to combatting climate change.[6] It was announced in a bid to ‘cement’ the UK’s global climate leadership.[7] On the other hand, PM Rishi Sunak stated net zero cannot be achieved through “hair shirt” policies that would impact British consumers; adding that this was “not the vision of net zero that [he thinks] is the right one for the UK”.[8] The growing discord within the Tory party on climate policies, especially post the Uxbridge byelection, is gathering momentum, as those on the liberal wing of the party urge for the net zero pledges to remain.[9] With party conference a few short weeks away, it will be a key issue to follow to see where the Tory’s climate policies end up. Regardless, Sunak has confirmed he will be attending COP28 in Dubai later this year, which might signal a continued push to ‘cement’ and prioritise the UK’s leadership on climate. This confirmation was particularly taken notice of in light of him not attending the United Nations General Assembly next week - starting Tuesday 19th September. UK-India relations were on show during the G20. While much was made of Sunak’s Indian heritage, and family connections, it did little to deflect from the UK's reduced standing on the world stage. It was notable that the scheduled meeting between the two leaders was delayed, then moved from the auspicious surroundings of Modi’s house to a regular conference room. These shifting dynamics between the two countries may also reflect that India overtook the UK in GDP earlier this year, with the latter going into sixth place and India to fifth in world rankings. A focal point for Sunak’s visit was the potential trade deal with India, the success of which would be a much-needed victory for the PM. In their meeting, both leaders indicated that work would continue towards a Free Trade Agreement (FTA).[10] The hope on the UK’s side is that it could be signed by the end of the year. If this occurred, it would help mitigate some of the fiscal decisions that the Government might have to make. It would also help combat the narrative that Brexit has increasingly isolated the UK internationally. With a general election looming, the issues discussed at the G20 are key areas that the UK needs to assess and take a position on as the parties make their case to the electorate. This year, both James Cleverly (Foreign Secretary) and David Lammy (Shadow Foreign Secretary) have outlined their plans for the UK’s foreign policy, with multilateralism being a key focus for both.[11] Looking ahead at these prioritiesThe three sessions held as part of the G20 Summit reflected the theme “One Earth, One Family, One Future”, with discussions centred around the thematic priorities laid out by India. These are: 
  • Multilateral institutions for the 21st century
  • Accelerating progress on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)
  • Women-led development
  • Technological transformation & digital public infrastructure
  • Accelerated, inclusive & resilient growth
  • Green development, climate finance & LiFE
 Over the course of the autumn, the Foreign Policy Centre will be rolling out a new series with invited experts providing comment on these priorities in turn. There will be a focus on how successful current British policy has been at addressing them, as well as establishing what the UK's position and ambitions in these areas should be moving forward. The series can be followed here[1] G20 New Delhi Leaders’ Declaration, New Delhi, India, 9-10 September 2023, https://www.g20.org/content/dam/gtwenty/gtwenty_new/document/G20-New-Delhi-Leaders-Declaration.pdf[2] Atlantic Council experts, Experts react: Did India’s G20 just crack the code for diplomatic consensus?, Atlantic Council, September 2023, https://www.atlanticcouncil.org/blogs/new-atlanticist/experts-react-did-indias-g20-just-crack-the-code-for-diplomatic-consensus/[3] Amitabh Kant, Twitter post, Twitter, September 2023, https://twitter.com/amitabhk87/status/1700692724910080350?s=46&t=kkMi2Eb_0HyodiDQ1c6BEw[4] Al Jazeera, Indian PM Modi proposes full G20 membership for African Union, August 2023, https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2023/8/27/indian-pm-modi-proposes-full-g20-membership-for-african-union[5] G20 New Delhi Leaders’ Declaration, New Delhi, India, 9-10 September 2023, https://www.g20.org/content/dam/gtwenty/gtwenty_new/document/G20-New-Delhi-Leaders-Declaration.pdf[6] Green Climate Fund (GCF) ‘is the largest global fund dedicated to help fight climate change’, see here: https://www.greenclimate.fund/[7] Prime Minister’s Office, 10 Downing Street and The Rt Hon Rishi Sunak, Prime Minister announces record climate aid commitment as G20 in India concludes, September 2023, https://www.gov.uk/government/news/prime-minister-announces-record-climate-aid-commitment-as-g20-in-india-concludes[8] Kiran Stacey, Rishi Sunak tells G20: UK will resist ‘hair shirt’ policies on net zero pledge’ The Guardian, September 2023, https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2023/sep/09/rishi-sunak-tells-g20-uk-will-resist-hair-shirt-policies-on-net-zero-pledge[9] A significant issue at the Uxbridge byelection was the expansion of Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) to outer London areas.[10] Prime Minister’s Office, 10 Downing Street and The Rt Hon Rishi Sunak MP, PM meeting with Prime Minister Modi of India: 9 September 2023, https://www.gov.uk/government/news/pm-meeting-with-prime-minister-modi-of-india-9-september-2023[11] Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office and The Rt Hon James Cleverly MP, Multilateral reform: Foreign Secretary’s speech at Chatham House London Conference 2023, Gov.uk, June 2023, https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/multilateral-reform-foreign-secretarys-speech-29-june-202; David Lammy MP, David Lammy speech to Chatham House, Labour, January 2023, https://labour.org.uk/press/david-lammy-speech-to-chatham-house/ [post_title] => “One Earth, One Family, One Future”: Key takeaways from the 2023 New Delhi G20 Summit, with a spotlight on the UK [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => one-earth-one-family-one-future-key-takeaways-from-the-2023-new-delhi-g20-summit-with-a-spotlight-on-the-uk [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2023-09-12 14:26:30 [post_modified_gmt] => 2023-09-12 13:26:30 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://fpc.org.uk/?p=7057 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ))
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