ACLU Helped Stall Bill to Seize Assets of Russian Oligarchs
A cyclist rides past the 24-meter long "La Petite Ourse" yacht, belonging to Russian oligarch Alexei Kuzmichev, and which would have a value of four million euros, according to a source close to the case and which was frozen on March 16, 2022, docked in the harbour of Antibes, south of France, on March 24, 2022. (Valery Hache / AFP via Getty)
By Luca Cacciatore | Friday, 08 April 2022 05:32 PM
The American Civil Liberties Union pushed to slow bipartisan legislation earlier this week that sought to liquidate assets of Russian oligarchs, The Washington Post reported on Friday.
The original Asset Seizure for Ukraine Reconstruction Act would have permitted the Biden administration to confiscate and sell the property of pro-Kremlin Russian oligarchs if valued at over $5 million, after which the proceeds would be transferred over to Ukraine.
"It would be fitting and right to use the wealth that supported Putin’s regime to rebuild the country Putin is destroying," said co-proposer Rep. Tom Malinowski, D-N.J., in a statement.
"The Ukrainian people should see the boats, planes, and villas of Putin’s enablers being seized and sold, and they should know that the proceeds will help their country and cause."
The left-wing civil rights group argued otherwise, criticizing the bill as "unconstitutional" for ignoring due-process protections.
"This bill was so unconstitutional that it raised the prospect that a sanctioned Russian national could win in an American court, which likely would have struck down both the statute and the sanction as being unconstitutional," said ACLU federal policy director Chris Anders, per The Post.
After the ACLU’s grievances were made known, the bill was ordered to be amended on Tuesday before returning to the House for a second vote, according to The Hill.
"Those who have accumulated great wealth and influence under Vladimir Putin and off the backs of the Russian people should not be able to hide their assets in the United States while Putin commits atrocities against the Ukrainian people," said Rep. Joe Wilson, R-S.C., the other proposer of the bill.
"Putin has chosen mafia rule, and the global community must respond accordingly."