June 08, 2023

Manchin, Graham, Blumenthal, Rounds Introduce Bipartisan Legislation to Transfer Illicit Assets to Aid Ukraine

Washington, DC – Today, U.S. Senators Joe Manchin (D-WV), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Mike Rounds (R-SD) introduced the Transferring Illicit Assets to Ukraine Act to allow the Department of Justice (DOJ) to transfer more forfeited Russian assets to Ukraine.

“Defeating Putin and supporting the Ukrainian people against this ruthless and unjust war must remain our top priority,” said Senator Manchin. “This bipartisan legislation will authorize the DOJ to expand its ability to seize Russian assets and send them directly to Ukraine for defense and rebuilding. I am committed to bringing this legislation across the finish line to reaffirm our long-term commitment to the Ukrainian people and our leading role in the fight to defend democracy.”

“This is a crucial time for Ukraine. Our efforts to assist Ukraine in liberating their country from the Russian invasion and Senator Manchin’s asset forfeiture bill will allow us to transfer more forfeited assets from Putin’s cronies to Ukraine for them to apply to the war effort,” said Senator Graham. “A win-win for all.”

“Transferring assets seized from those aiding and abetting Putin’s barbaric invasion will help Ukraine defend and rebuild their homeland,” said Senator Blumenthal. “Our measure – targeting the ill-gotten profits of oligarchs, sanctioned companies, and others supporting Russia’s war machine – gives DOJ the tools it needs to embolden our allies. This is a critical time for Ukraine’s fight for freedom. I’m proud to join my colleagues in this bipartisan effort.”

“It is critical Ukraine is able to protect their country against Russia’s unjustified and illegal invasion,” said Senator Rounds. “By providing Ukraine with the necessary tools to defend themselves, we are helping to defend democracy. This bipartisan legislation paves an effective and efficient way for Ukraine to receive seized assets, which further strengthens their ability to fight back against Russian aggression.”

Under current authority, DOJ can only transfer to Ukraine assets forfeited from violations of select Russia-related sanctions. The first and only use of this authority occurred in February 2023, when Attorney General Merrick Garland authorized a transfer of $5.4 million forfeited from a sanctioned Russian oligarch. With expanded authority from Congress, DOJ could transfer far more assets from bad actors to support the Ukrainian people in their fight for freedom. This bipartisan legislation would allow the DOJ to transfer assets forfeited from violations of a wider range of economic countermeasures, such as export controls.

The Transferring Illicit Assets to Ukraine Act would:

  • Expand DOJ’s existing authority to apply to the proceeds of forfeited assets from any sanction or export control involving Russia or Belarus related to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine (including the 2014 invasion of Crimea);
  • Require a report from the Attorney General, Secretary of the Treasury, and Secretary of State outlining a plan for using this new authority; and
  • Require semiannual reports from these same entities on the use of this authority for the benefit of Ukraine.

The full text of the bill is available here.