GOP Rep to introduce bill allowing US citizens to seize yachts and assets of Russian oligarchs

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As the world’s mood turns increasingly hostile to Russia for its unprovoked invasion of Ukraine, multiple countries are drawing up legislation to seize Russian assets and some Republicans are looking to do the same.

A bill by Representative Lance Gooden (R-TX) is anticipated on Monday which would allow for private American citizens to confiscate yachts, planes, and other types of property belonging to Russian citizens targeted by federal sanctions, Fox News reported.

The bill is said to empower President Joe Biden to issue letters of marque and reprisal, which is a congressional power specifically listed in Article 1 of the Constitution of the United States, but has not been used since the War of 1812 against Britain, in which they were used extensively.

Gooden spoke to Fox News Digital and commented on his bill:

“Putin and his inner circle still have yachts and planes sitting in harbors and airports all over the world. The United States must use every tool at our disposal to seize them and hold Russia accountable for the disgusting invasion of Ukraine. The oligarchs who enabled this crisis are a good place to start.”

The bill updates some of the language and explicitly allows for these letters to be used in digital space, with the purpose of allowing U.S.-based hackers to go after specific sanctioned individuals and agencies in Russia.

However, Gooden also told Fox News that these letters are meant to serve a second purpose, as a means for Congress to “check” Biden, a president whom Gooden said “lacks initiatives to achieve Congress’ objectives on his own.”

On Saturday, Biden joined other U.S. allies in announcing a new wave of sanctions against Russia, which went beyond simply targeting the banking system, but also included measures to physically seize assets belonging to the billionaire oligarchs who stand behind Putin, such as their luxury yachts and network of mansions.

A joint statement was also issued, in which the U.S. and its allies announced the formation of a special task force to track down and freeze the assets of sanctioned individuals and companies within the various countries’ jurisdictions.

“We’ll go after their yachts, their luxury apartments, their money and their ability to send their kids to fancy colleges in the West,” commented one Biden official, during the announcement.

This follows on top of earlier efforts from the western alliance to eject the Russians from the international finance system, sanctioning the Russian Central Bank and expelling Russia from the critical SWIFT finance network. The practice of issuing “golden passports” that rich Russians use via their money and connections in order to obtain foreign citizenship is also being targeted by this task force.

As of this writing, however, none of these measures have induced Russia to stop its merciless onslaught against Ukraine.


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