How South Florida may be impacted by Russian sanctions

Vladimir Putin at Russian Conference — Courtesy: Shutterstock — Sasa Dzambic Photography

After several weeks of growing tensions, nearly 200,000 Russian troops assembled at Ukraine’s border and began a broad military offensive, with world leaders warning that this series of attacks could lead to one of the biggest conflicts Europe has seen since World War II. 

As Russia targets a number of key Ukrainian military sites, many of which are closely located to some of Ukraine’s most heavily populated cities, the country has already faced bloodshed as dozens of deaths have been reported in the capital of Kyiv and beyond.

South Florida’s Russian connections extend from real estate to businesses and can be directly impacted by sanctions imposed on any Russian assets in the United States.

“For example, a Russian person. That person’s condo, aircraft can be seized at any moment by the U.S. government,” Ed Patricoff, partner at Duane Morris Law Firm said.

Patricoff focuses on asset forfeiture. He says these types of sanctions have taken place in the past against countries like Venezuela.

“The proposed sanctions are similar to sanctions seen in the past,” Patricoff said.

Wealthy Russians that can be tied to the Kremlin have a possibility of having their assets frozen in the U.S., causing a trickle effect.

“It actually trickles down to others in the community, not just the affected person on the list, but it could also harm people here in the South Florida community who do business with these people.”

Patricoff said that finding those assets could be difficult as many of them are linked to shell companies that are based in several other countries.

“There’s a bit of wealth all over the U.S. by Russians,” Patricoff said. “The challenge will be to find all of them.”

In Sunny Isles, where nearly eight percent of residents speak Russian as their first language, realtor Jose Lima said he noticed a transaction that took much longer than expected, a wire transfer for a monthly rental of $18,000.

“This is from the past week they start doing that,” Lima said. “Usually money gets here in a few hours, most one day. This is my first case the money was kept for a while.”

Lima believes that it is related to the U.S. government taking a closer look at money that is coming in from Russians. 

Although the wire transfer took multiple days, it was approved. “All the money coming now, they’re being careful,” Lima said.

The world continues to look on at the tragic events happening in Ukraine.

“The prayers of the entire world are with the people of Ukraine tonight as they suffer an unprovoked and unjustified attack by Russian military forces,” President Joe Biden said in a statement this morning. “President Putin has chosen a premeditated war that will bring a catastrophic loss of life and human suffering. Russia alone is responsible for the death and destruction this attack will bring, and the United States and its allies and partners will respond in a united and decisive way. The world will hold Russia accountable.”

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