Gov't doing little to track down Russian real estate in Netherlands
Over a month since the European Union implemented sanctions against Russia for its invasion of Ukraine, the Dutch government has done very little to track down and seize Russian real estate in the Netherlands. The Land Registry has not yet received an order to map out Russian property, NOS reports. And the various Ministries involved in the sanctions all say that Russian real estate doesn't fall under their responsibilities.
Minister Sigrid Kaag of Finance reported to parliament last week that Dutch banks, investment firms, and trust offices have frozen nearly 400 million euros in Russian assets. But no real estate was included in that figure, a spokesperson for the Ministry of Finance confirmed to the broadcaster. "The overview does not cover assets like houses or yachts."
Spokespersons for the Ministries of Justice and Security, Economic Affairs and Climate, and Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations all told NOS that they're not responsible for tracking and mapping Russian real estate. According to the broadcaster, spokespersons for regulators De Nederlandsche Bank and Authority on Financial Markets said the same.
An interdepartmental working group has been set up. But the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, responsible for coordinating the sanctions against Russia, told NOS that its members have not made any further agreements about who exactly does what.
Ignace Meuwissen, a Belgian man who for years owned a company that sold European real estate to wealthy Russians, told the broadcaster that Russian oligarchs definitely own property in the Netherlands. His former company was involved in Russian purchases on the Amsterdam canals.
"There is a huge gap in real estate supervision," said lawyer Heleen op de Linden, who got a doctorate on previous European sanctions against Russia. She is not surprised. "You also saw with the sanctions after the invasion of Crimea that the Netherlands often let enforcement take its own course. Good enforcement costs a lot of money, and it's not certain in advance whether it will yield anything."