Italy has seized luxury villas and superyachts owned by Russian oligarchs. The owners are all on the EU’s sanctions list.
On Friday, Italian foreign minister Luigi Di Maio announced the plan to start seizing properties of those thought to be close to President Vladimir Putin.
“We must be able to stop Putin's attack, bringing him to the table, and he won't go with niceties,” he told Italian state TV.
The Italian financial police moved quickly and since Friday, has seized €143 million worth of property from five Russian oligarchs.
This includes luxury villas located in some of the country's most picturesque destinations like Tuscany and the island of Sardinia.
A Lake Como house owned by Moscow TV presenter Vladimir Soloviev was among them as well as a Sardinian villa belonging to Alisher Usmanov - both on the EU sanctions list. Together they are estimated to have a combined value of €25 million.
Two yachts were also seized at northern Italian ports including the 65 metre long ‘Lady M’, thought to be worth around €65 million.
The EU needs to move quickly
After Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on 24 February, the EU has started to apply sanctions to Russian oligarchs, freezing their assets and barring them from entering the bloc.
Italy is now urging other countries to move quickly on their assets with Prime Minister Mario Draghi saying that they should follow Italy’s lead.
“I’d really like to see similar measures taken by all of our countries,” Draghi said at a joint press conference with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.
“Now we must be rapid in the implementation of this.”
He added that Italy, France and Germany had been swift with their implementation of the sanctions but "others less so."
French authorities also seized a superyacht at the port of La Ciotat last week where officials say it was preparing for an urgent departure. It belonged to Igor Sechin, CEO of Russian oil company Rosneft and one of the oligarchs listed in EU sanctions announced on 28 February.
“Thank you to the French customs officers who are enforcing the European Union's sanctions against those close to the Russian government," Economic Minister Bruno La Maire said in a tweet.
The German economy ministry has also said that it is in process of “swiftly and effectively” implementing sanctions but has not publicly revealed if any assets have been seized.