Euroclear: 2.9 Billion Euros Frozen in Russia in Response to Western Sanctions

At the moment, 24.5 billion dollars belonging to the Central Bank of Russia and another 10.7 billion dollars of Russian business are blocked in European countries.

2.9 billion euros. This is the value of assets of the European depositories Euroclear and Clearstream blocked in Russia “in response to the freezing of Russian funds as part of the Western sanctions policy against the Kremlin.”

According to the annual report of the Euroclear international depositary, assets worth about three billion euros are blocked in the Russian “National Settlement Depository” (NSD). The Russian blockade followed the restrictions that Euroclear and Clearstream imposed a year ago on the NSD depository itself, in accordance with European sanctions, after the start of the Russian military operation in Ukraine.

Euroclear, owned by several major banks and stock exchanges, including the London Stock Exchange and Euronext, is a Belgian financial services company specializing in the settlement of securities transactions and the safekeeping and maintenance of securities assets. It was founded in 1968 as an offshoot of JP Morgan & Co. for settlements on transactions in the Eurobond market, which was “still developing” in those previous times. Euroclear’s current challenge is to manage the liquidation and settlement phases of cross-border securities or currency transactions by linking with central depositories in various countries. The main task of the international central depository is to “ensure the smooth and efficient movement of securities and funds.”

Euroclear is a group of central depositories controlled by the British holding company Euroclear plc. through Euroclear Sa/Nv (Brussels), which, in turn, unites the international central depository Euroclear Bank and the French (Euroclear France), Dutch (Euroclear Nederland), and English (CrestCo) depositories.

In 2022, Euroclear froze Russian assets in accordance with the sanctions. After a series of disputes, Euroclear received permission from the Ministry of Finance of Luxembourg and the Ministry of Finance of Belgium to unfreeze Russian assets. But the Central Bank of Russia (Centrobank) stated that “partial permits in no way guarantee the return of frozen assets to investors.” Last month, Elvira Nabiullina, chairman of the Central Bank of Russia, said that in 14 months, investors managed to return frozen assets totaling 3,000 billion rubles (more than 34.4 billion euros at the current exchange rate – ed.).

For its part, on May 25, The European Union for the first time published the exact value of frozen Russian assets in Europe. According to European Commissioner Didier Reynders, “$24.5 billion of Russian Central Bank activity was blocked in European countries, plus another $10.7 billion of funds owned by Russian business.” In total, 300 billion dollars of the Russian Central Bank are frozen in the world, of which 100 billion are frozen in the United States.