Ukraine’s parliament provisionally approved on Thursday a law allowing the government to seize what it says are offshore assets of Kremlin-backed former president Viktor Yanukovich without the need for a court order.
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Prime Minister Arseny Yatseniuk’s party said the law would allow the government to seize as much as 50 billion hryvnia ($1.9 billion) worth of government bonds and use the money for social and defense spending.
The law is “essential for our country, army and pensioners”, lawmaker Serhiy Pashinsky told parliament.
Yatseniuk’s party says the bonds were bought with money the former president and his cronies had plundered from the state. Yatseniuk said Yanukovich holds the bonds through 42 offshore companies spread across Cyprus, the Seychelles, Britain, Panama and Belize.
“Restoring justice was and is one of the key demands of Maidan and the Ukrainian people. This is $1.5 billion – equivalent to the volume of aid (to Ukraine) from the U.S. government,” he told a government meeting on Wednesday.