AG Merrick Garland says assets seized from Russian oligarchs should go ‘directly to Ukraine’

Attorney General Merrick Garland told senators Tuesday that the Justice Department would support efforts to ship assets seized from Russian oligarchs directly to Ukraine.

The US and its allies have sanctioned Russia heavily and offered Ukraine financial and military aid in the eight weeks since Moscow invaded its neighbor Feb. 24.

“The government — we would support legislation that would allow some of that money to go directly to Ukraine,” Mr. Garland told the Senate Appropriations Committee. “That’s not the current circumstance with respect to the fund.”

After Russian forces invaded, the Justice Department launched a special task force targeting the assets of billionaire oligarchs who support Russian President Vladimir Putin and have benefited from his regime.

The unit, dubbed the KleptoCapture Task Force, includes resources from various agencies, including the FBI, Treasury Department and Internal Revenue Service. The unit has targeted the wealthy Russians’ jets, yachts, real estate and other assets.

Earlier this month, the unit made its largest seizure, a $90 million 255-foot luxury yacht owned by a Russian billionaire. It was seized in Spain at the request of the Spanish government.

Mr. Garland decried Russia’s campaign in Ukraine, saying he’s seen “horrible atrocities” in videos and photos from the invasion.

“All of those pictures are just horrific and are the kinds of things anybody growing up in the 20th century never expected to see in the 21st again,” he said.

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