At the request of the coalition factions, the Bundestag passed a law on Thursday evening that is intended to make it easier to hunt down the assets of Russian oligarchs in Germany. The new rules are intended to make enforcement of the sanctions imposed by the EU on members of the Russian ruling elite after the attack on Ukraine more effective.

Among other things, the law creates the possibility of securing assets until the ownership situation has been clarified.

In addition, it should make it easier for the competent federal and state authorities to access and exchange data on the persons or companies affected by sanctions. In the future, the Central Office for Financial Transaction Investigations (FIU) should be able to participate in determining assets.

With the law, the coalition is reacting to deficits that had become apparent in the enforcement of the sanctions. “The provisions provided for in this law serve to close regulatory gaps in the short term,” says the draft law that has now been passed.

The investigators are targeting assets such as real estate, yachts, cars and airplanes in Germany. The ownership structure of these assets is often veiled and difficult to understand, according to government circles when the draft was presented.

The first stage of the new Sanctions Enforcement Act is intended to create the necessary mechanisms. This should give the authorities the opportunity to “secure” assets until the question of ownership has been clarified – because oligarchs often hide behind complicated corporate constellations.

As a further mechanism, an obligation to provide information is to be introduced for all those people and companies who are on the EU sanctions list. Those affected would therefore have to report their assets in Germany themselves. If they do not comply with this obligation, they now face imprisonment of up to one year or a fine.

Furthermore, the bodies responsible for “enforcing sanctions should be able to access confidential administrative information that is already available to the extent necessary,” it said. Among other things, this involves checking account balances.