In the course of a meeting on 10 June, it was confirmed that 41 transactions suspected of involving Russian assets have been reported to the ministry of finance and five planes have been seized since the end of February 2022, the source said.
Finance minister Yuriko Backes (DP) on Monday confirmed in answer to a parliamentary question from déi Gréng that as of 13 June 2022, €210,327,140 of assets located at the Freeport had been frozen. This number was also revealed last week during Friday’s meeting.
The ministry of finance had previously remained tight-lipped about the role of assets at Luxembourg’s Freeport in financing the war against the Ukraine, other than to iterate that EU sanctions applied within the Freeport.
A Luxembourg High Security Hub spokesperson told Delano in April that due diligence including anti-money laundering procedure was carried out on all assets at the Freeport. They also confirmed that unlike Switzerland, Luxembourg’s Freeport asks for the ultimate beneficial owner of all assets deposited.
Freeports have come under scrutiny as a harbour for illegal assets for some time. As a government-designated zone in which tax typically does not apply, they are designed to encourage economic activity.
Luxembourg’s High Security Hub at Luxembourg airport in Findel covers an estimated 11,000 square metres of rentable storage space, including a wine cellar that holds 400,000 bottles. It is advertised as a platform for securing, servicing and preserving works of art, fine wines, vintage cars, precious metals, luxury goods and pharmaceuticals.
In 2019, German MEP Wolf Klinz complained that Luxembourg’s Freeport was a haven for tax evasion and money laundering. The LHSH countered by saying that customers use the site to cut their insurance premiums.
Alessandro Di Mario, a lawyer specialised in market access issues at firm K&L Gates told Delano in April: “We have not come across indications that freeports are used to circumvent sanctions.”
The ministry of finance said on 6 June that it had so far frozen €4.3bn under EU sanctions against Russia which have targeted more than 90 persons and 1,100 legal entities.
LHSH and the ministry of finance did not respond to requests for comment at the time of publishing.