Borg defends Malta role in supplying info that led to Russian asset seizures


Malta froze only €200,000 in Russian assets on Maltese territory but foreign minister claims information supplied to EU states led to €100 million asset captures

Ian Borg with Council vice-president for external relations, Josep Borrell
Ian Borg with Council vice-president for external relations, Josep Borrell

Malta has frozen only €200,000 in Russian assets, but according to foreign minister Ian Borg, the real value of seized assets climbs well into double-digit millions.

Borg told Brussels newspaper Politico that Malta had provided information to other member states that led to other captures worth close to €100 million.

While officially Malta froze €200,000 of Russian assets because of Brussels’ sanctions, Borg told Politico that member states can only freeze assets within their territories.

“Thanks to the information provided by the Maltese authorities, other assets worth millions have been frozen by other member states… We have provided information to other member states that resulted in the freezing of bulk carriers, two yachts, and bank accounts in other member states’ banks. These assets are worth millions — well over €100 million.”

Greece and Malta lag behind their European Union peers in freezing Russian assets sanctioned over Moscow’s war against Ukraine, according to an EU official and an internal document.

The 27 EU countries have so far reported freezing some 20.3 billion euros ($22 billion) of sanctioned Russian assets, with Italy, Ireland, France, Spain, Germany, Belgium, Luxembourg and Austria each notifying more than a billion euros.

In March 2022 Malta also, belatedly, suspended all citizenship-by-investment applications from Russian and Belarusian nationals due to the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine. The move came after widespread pressure on Malta to suspend the scheme for Russian nationals. MEPs had stated that EU countries with golden passport schemes should review all beneficiaries of such residence status.

The EU has imposed unprecedented sanctions against Russia in response to the unprovoked and unjustified invasion of Ukraine on 24 February 2022 and the illegal annexation of Ukraine's Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson regions.

They add to existing measures imposed on Russia since 2014 following the annexation of Crimea and the non-implementation of the Minsk agreements.

Sanctions include targeted restrictive measures (individual sanctions), economic sanctions and visa measures.