Curaçao freezes $43 million from sanctioned Russians

THE HAGUE - The Curaçao government has frozen more than $ 43 million in assets of Russians that are on the European sanctions list. This was reported by the Dutch Minister of Foreign Affairs Wopke Hoekstra in response to written questions from MPs Attje Kuiken (PvdA) and Don Ceder (CU).  


It is not known whether it concerns Russians who are active in the online gambling industry via Curaçao. Media in the Netherlands revealed last week that hundreds of Russians (with an often-dubious background) were laundering billions of criminal money on the basis of a Curaçao 'sublicense' and a letterbox company.  


These are the MPs questions and the minister’s response. 


Question 1  

Are you familiar with the report 'Oligarchs have registered planes in Aruba'?  


Yes, I have taken note of this news article  


Question 2  

What is known about the total size of possessions of Russian oligarchs in the countries within the Caribbean part of the Kingdom? 


With regard to Curaçao, Aruba and Sint Maarten (the CAS), neither the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management, nor other Dutch ministries have legal powers with which to gain insight into the nature and size of the assets of Russian oligarchs. That is why there has been collegial contact with the various stakeholders at the CAS islands.  

The authorities of the CAS islands are continuously implementing the sanctions imposed by the European Union. To date, these efforts in Curaçao have uncovered financial assets of five sanctioned Russian individuals worth more than $43 million in total. In line with the applicable sanctions, these assets have been frozen by the authorities of Curaçao. With regard to possible possession in the form of aircraft, I refer you to my answers to questions 4 and 5. With regard to watercraft, the authorities of Sint Maarten have reported one ship on land belonging to a sanctioned Russian citizen. This ship has now been 'frozen' or seized by the competent authority in Sint Maarten.  


Question 3  

How are sanctions coordinated against Russia and Russian individuals within the Kingdom in the Ukraine crisis? What role does article 3, paragraph a of the Statute of the Kingdom play in this, which stipulates that foreign relations are Kingdom affairs?  


Since the outbreak of the crisis, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has been in close contact with the Caribbean countries regarding the implementation of the various sanctions regimes that have been adopted. All countries within our Kingdom are obliged to implement the sanctions adopted by the EU. The implementation and enforcement of these sanctions must also be carried out by Aruba, Curaçao and Sint Maarten themselves. This is not a Kingdom affair.  

The CAS islands are also in contact with the Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management regarding compliance with the sanctions aimed at shipping. 


Question 4  

Are you willing to urge Aruba to take immediate action against the Aruban aviation registry private planes of Russian oligarchs against whom sanctions have been imposed, in order to enforce effective sanctions throughout the Kingdom?  


To date, the Aruban Ministry of Transport has concluded that there is a possible connection with Russia in nine aircraft registered in Aruba. None of the planes are in Aruba. Measures have been taken with regard to six aircraft. A flight ban has been imposed on two aircraft that do not have a Russian owner, but which were in Russia at the time of the introduction of the measures, in connection with flight safety. Another aircraft that is also in Russia and has a Russian owner (who is not on the EU sanctions lists by the way) has been banned from flying for the same reason. Finally, two other aircraft residing in Russia and owned by non-EU-sanctioned Russian owners have been officially removed from the register because the owners have indicated that they have no intention of physically removing the aircraft from Russia in the near future.  


Question 5  

What about the registration and presence of aircraft in the other countries in the Caribbean part of the Kingdom? If this is the case, are you also prepared to take similar actions there? 


Curaçao and Sint Maarten have a relatively small joint aircraft register (about 25 aircraft). The aircraft are mainly used for air traffic between the Caribbean parts of the kingdom. The aircraft that are registered in the register of Curaçao and Sint Maarten do not have a Russian owner or holder.  


Question 6  

What about the registration and presence of ships in the countries in the Caribbean part of the Kingdom? If this is the case, are you also prepared to take similar actions there?  


The CAS islands are also responsible for compliance with the sanctions in the field of shipping. As already indicated, the local authorities are in close contact with the Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management regarding the specific application of the sanctions for maritime shipping. At the moment there are no ships of persons or entities on the sanction list that reside in the ports and/or waters of Aruba, Curaçao or St. Maarten respectively. However, as already mentioned, a ship belonging to a sanctioned Russian individual was found on land in Sint Maarten. This ship has been 'frozen' by the authorities of Sint Maarten.