“The European Public Prosecutor’s Office, operational for just over a year now, is well-equipped to take on sanctions busting as the bloc pushes ahead with plans to make it a criminal offense under EU law and give her office the power to prosecute it as soon as possible,” said European Union’s chief prosecutor Laura Codruta Kovesi, Bloomberg reports.
“We’re certainly ready, we can do it. One of the possible crimes connected to the breach of sanctions is smuggling and we can already investigate that. So we could start as early as today if we had the legal instruments,” Kovesi added.
To date, the EU has frozen about €18.9 billion of assets belonging to sanctioned Russian individuals and entities since Russia invaded Ukraine.
Kovesi was actually the first top-level EU official to visit Ukraine since the Russian invasion and signed an agreement with the authorities there to share information on suspected cases of fraud in Ukraine connected to EU-linked funds.
“We have a pretty solid contact with the Ukrainian general prosecutor’s office and looking forward to the potential new competency for the EPPO” to work more closely with colleagues in Kyiv, said Kovesi.
As reported, at the end of November, the European Council unanimously adopted a decision to add to the European list of criminal offenses any actions that contribute to the violation or circumvention of restrictive measures imposed by the European Union on third countries, entities, or persons.
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