Dutch gov't waited a month before implementing sanctions against Russia
The Dutch government waited more than a month to implement important sanctions against Russia due to a wait-and-see attitude and a lack of coordination, NRC reports based on documents from the Chamber of Commerce (KvK) and the Land Registry it received through an appeal to the Open Government Act.
One of the EU's sanctions imposed after Russia invaded Ukraine was to expand the list of Russian and Belarusian individuals and business entities whose assets had to be frozen. The Ministry of Economic Affairs asked the KvK to map out Russian assets in the Netherlands. The KvK delivered an overview of 550 Russian stakeholders in the Netherlands two days later.
The KvK called its inventory a “starting point for further investigation.” Along with data from the Land Registry, for example, the Cabinet could check which boats and houses are registered to owners of sanctioned companies. That required a legislative amendment, which only happened after Stef Blok was appointed as sanctions coordinator more than a month later, according to the newspaper.
On February 25, the day after Russia invaded Ukraine, mayor Femke Halsema of Amsterdam already asked Prime Minister Mark Rutte and Finance Minister Sigrid Kaag for an inventory of relevant Russian assets. She wrote to the Cabinet on behalf of the four large cities. “We are very concerned about Russian interests in our cities, knowing that [the] Russian business community, whether or not through letterbox companies, is also active here on a large scale.”
The Chamber of Commerce was also frustrated by the Cabinet’s slow approach. “We lack connections between implementation and authorities,” the KvK sanctions team director Geert Prins said in an email at the start of April, pointing to a lack of an “integrated approach.”
In response to NRC, the Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Economic Affairs said that implementing sanctions is “firstly up to the market parties themselves.” They are unaware of any cases of Russian or Belarusian owners or entities moving their interests in Dutch companies while the sanctions were being implemented.