U.S. Senators Joe Manchin (D-WV), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), and Mike Rounds R-SD) have introduced the Transferring Illicit Assets to Ukraine Act. The legislation aims to provide the Department of Justice (DOJ) with more authority to transfer forfeited Russian assets to Ukraine. The senators believe that defeating Putin and supporting the Ukrainian people in their fight against the Russian invasion must remain a top priority. The bipartisan legislation would authorize the DOJ to expand its ability to seize Russian assets and send them directly to Ukraine for defense and rebuilding.

“Transferring assets seized from those aiding and abetting Putin’s barbaric invasion will help Ukraine defend and rebuild their homeland,” said Sen. Blumenthal in a statement provided to PolitcusUSA. “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.”

The senators have stated that it is a crucial time for Ukraine, and the asset forfeiture bill will allow them to transfer more forfeited assets from Putin’s cronies to Ukraine to apply to the war effort. The legislation targets the ill-gotten profits of oligarchs, sanctioned companies, and others supporting Russia’s war machine. It gives DOJ the tools it needs to embolden allies and help Ukraine defend and rebuild their homeland.

“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.”

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.

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. The legislation would require a report from the Attorney General, Secretary of the Treasury, and Secretary of State outlining a plan for using this new authority and semiannual reports from these same entities on the use of this authority for the benefit of Ukraine.

The bipartisan Senate effort demonstrates the commitment of the United States to the Ukrainian people and their fight for freedom, which stands in contrast to the House where the Republican majority is divided on supporting Ukraine and Kevin McCarthy has signaled that Republicans will not support more aid.

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