The Reich did it to the Jews in 1930s, now the American regime has set up a mechanism for arbitrary mass expropriation of assets of all Russians in the West
This post first appeared on Russia Insider
The author, a regular contributor, is a Finnish national who is a business consultant specializing in tax consulting and financial advisory with a long-standing practice in Russia.
The new law of sanctions on Russia is not just economic war – it is a war on the Russian people and now the millions of Russians who have assets in the West are on the frontline. Anyone working in private business, state corporations or in contracts with state corporations, is now a target of asset seizures by the American regime.
“It Can’t Happen to Us”
These sanctions are no diplomatic squabble. They will get very personal for Russian businesses and professionals working with Russian companies. Any sector of business can be targeted by the US for such crimes as “closeness to elites”, “oligarch”. They are reminiscent of Stalin’s terror and kangaroo courts in which anyone could be charged, tried and convicted, property seized and banished without a right to appeal.
Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (H.R.3364) signed into law on August 3, 2017 targets potentially any Russian individuals, any people in commerce with Russia and Russians, as enemies. The law commences a massive worldwide hunt for assets, property, bank accounts of Russian people. Mechanisms for mass expropriation and freezing of private property, bank assets, and real estate that already exist will be unleashed to seize property belonging to Russians and their family and friends worldwide.
Any savings, homes, assets, bank accounts any Russians have anywhere in the western world are now at risk of being seized. Russians stand to lose all their monies in any western countries, if they do not repatriate them in time to Russia, beyond the reach of American agencies.
Less than 180 days before they come for you
Section 241 of the sanctions law instructs US intelligence agencies, the State Department and the Treasury department to provide extensive lists of Russians to be targeted. Their crime could be working in lines of businesses that are important for the Russian economy, or a have a friend somewhere in government, or be categorized as members of “elite,” or “close to elites” or being an “oligarch” or associated with a parastatal company or simply being charged by a paparazzi newspaper of being close to someone – who in turn is close to someone.
This is the first recorded witch hunt in modern history – last records of witch hunts and trials in the west date back to 1750s. But the sinister tones and threats cannot be underestimated. The definitions are deliberately vague and loose to make the dragnet widest possible – tens of thousands of Russians in private business and state employ will be targeted. The law specifically instructs that their families – spouses, children, friends, associates – are to be targeted as well.
Specific instructions are given in the law to target bank accounts in offshore jurisdictions – Cyprus was already targeted for seizing of Russian bank accounts in 2013 under European Union instructions. On the individuals identified by US intelligence and State Department, media reports and “ratings” will be compiled on estimated net worth and known sources of income of individuals and their family members (including spouses, children, parents, and siblings), assets, investments, other business interests. There will be no trials or judicial process before seizure of assets. No charges will be filed and no cases made in any courts of any country.
The US enjoys wide powers over global banking and its treasury department will move to block, freeze or seize any assets it so wants. An unprecedented worldwide attack on private wealth of Russians is in the making.
“Grovel over to Uncle Sam and you’ll be spared”
Exclusions and waivers will be granted to a handful Russians who have stolen billions from Russian state in Yeltsin era robber capitalism of 1990s that was brought to an end by President Vladimir Putin. Those who siphoned off an estimated 500 billion US$ in Russian state money under the garb of US promoted “market economy” and fixed elections of 1996, will be exempt.
Anyone else who publicly states animus and hatred toward Russia and President Vladimir Putin will be left alone. Traitors, turncoats and criminals will be spared if they join in the anti-Russia campaign – all others will be targeted.
The United States congressional hearings for the law, that were passed with historic majority, were a new low in demonization and hatred toward Russia and Russians. This is the same Congress that cannot agree on any laws to protect American lives or stop gun violence or provide medical care to millions of poor Americans that has come together in an unprecedented attack on a foreign country.
The hearings saw abuse and insults were hurled at Russian people and their character. Russophobia that has dominated American press and television for a decade came a full circle. The congressional act is comparable only with the mass hatred and victimization of Jews in Nazi Germany, which too, was followed by seizure of their property. Congress hearings finally buried any semblance of restraint, decency and civility – the attack on Russia was unprovoked, naked and followed none of the process leading up to an illegal war against Iraq.
The icing on the cake was provided by hedge fund manager, wanted tax-dodger and known anti-Russia propagandist Bill Browder, who was filmed on the Capitol Hill heaping abuse on Russia and its elected President. American mainstream media joined the chorus mocking and demonizing Russia, calling for sanctions and showing President Trump his new place in the Constitution.
Browder heaping scorn on 'Russians' in Senate testimony
Raw Russophobia Rules
The mere act of imposing sanctions against individuals and corporations mark a blatant breach of the system of rule of law of all civilized societies. With unilateral sanctions against individuals, the legal norm of a fair and public trial, a right to defence are disposed with and shadowy tribunals of unelected bodies and secret agencies given absolute power to destroy lives. Extraordinary powers without any judicial oversight have been given to agencies of the US regime to frame and destroy anyone with impunity. Business disputes and personal vendettas can now be settled against Russian businesses as US regime sides with group of oligarchs that have shifted their assets to the west with those who continue to work in Russia.
No regime, perhaps with the exception of Ugandan dictator Idi Amin, has acted with such impunity since the Nazi seizure of Jewish properties in Germany which followed Bolshevik terror and collectivization. Being Jewish was sufficient grounds to seize personal wealth and property of any family in Nazi Germany – being educated and having land for farming was sufficient crime in Lenin and Stalin’s Russia. Persecution of Jews in Germany and Central Europe in the 1930s was followed by summary seizure and theft of their assets and businesses.
“It could not happen in Cyprus”
In 2013, seizure of foreigners bank deposits in Cyprus banks was targeted against Russian account holders and depositors. Cyprus banks had failed but instead of bailing out the failing banks, European Union took a midnight decision to seize private monies of Russians, and keep it.
European Union acted with impunity in closing and seizing bank deposits and the banks were then handed to an American hedge fund – owned by current US commerce secretary Wilbur Ross. The expropriation of the Russian monies was performed with glee and with clear signals being sent out that the Western authorities were confiscating “filthy Russian money.” It set a dangerous precedent of disregard of due process in encroaching on private property given political and racist considerations.
The message was clear then and is clear now – US and its vassal regimes of the NATO alliance will move to seize any private property, anywhere and no one can stop or challenge them.
Act now or lose it all
Previous asset grabs in history came suddenly, violently and caught the victims unawares. US Congress has served a notice of 180 days to Russians that their personal views and ideology, if in favour of their own country , makes them fair game for being hunted. Russians social media accounts, blogs, private conversations and paparazzi press will be scanned by the long arm of American intelligence agencies. Anyone expressing patriotic or nationalistic views and support for President Putin will face instant repercussions. There will be no appeal once the monies are seized.
The clock is ticking since August 3. Russian state can do nothing to protect private wealth and savings of its citizens abroad because global banking system is controlled by US regime. It remains to be seen how much wealth will be moved back home to Russia and whether it will qualify for a tax amnesty. Russians may denounce their country and countrymen, proclaim their animus toward Russia and hope their proclamations will be heard by US intelligence agencies that are listening in, and they excluded from the coming asset grab.
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