Alisher Burkhanovitch Usmanov is once again in the center of public interest.

The name of the man with the job title oligarch can be found along with 30 other Russian and Belarusian billionaires on the sanctions list of the European Union.

His fortune is estimated at $13 billion.

Usmanow is known to Germans because he owns three properties in the most beautiful Alpine style (including a boathouse) on Lake Tegernsee.

The Bavarian foothills of the Alps not only attract wealthy Germans, but also attract the super-rich from all over the world, for example the Thai King Rama X., who has a second home on Lake Starnberg, scrutinized by the tax authorities.

Rainer Hank

Freelance author in the business section of the Frankfurter Allgemeine Sunday newspaper.

  • Follow I follow

So Usmanov's assets are now frozen, as are the mansions, yachts, helicopters and artworks of his fellow oligarchs.

Freeze means Usmanov cannot rent out or resell his home;

however, it remains his property.

The lawyers call this a “ban on disposal”.

For a long time, many "service providers" in the West benefited from the oligarchs in the East.

The beneficiaries are the real estate agents who select the land and palaces, the notaries who certify everything properly and the bankers who manage and increase the oligarch's wealth.

Usmanow was also a welcome sight at Tegernsee for a long time: he organized great parties, ordered caviar and was popular because of his generous tips, as I can gather from a report in the “Zeit”.

In the meantime, the mood in Rottach-Egern has changed: they no longer want to have anything to do with the man.

A municipal councilor of the Greens is leaning particularly far out of the window.

He promotes confiscating the oligarch's property, exploiting it and then "making it available to the general public".

Shameless demands

Such demands are not isolated, although they are not always as sharp and shameless as at Tegernsee: First benefit, then socialize - and benefit from it again.

The desire to expropriate Russians is spreading.

The EU Commission on Wednesday presented a legislative proposal on how Russian assets could be confiscated should the owners try to circumvent EU sanctions.

The American President Joe Biden also likes the idea.

Even in neutral Switzerland there are important voices of confiscatory power.

For the most part, these initiatives dress more morally than at Tegernsee.

The proceeds will be used to finance the reconstruction of Ukraine.

That would only be fair, say the supporters of expropriation - and would relieve the coffers of the West;

they don't say that.

The affect is understandable and hypocritical at the same time.

A newfangled resentment against all the super-rich is mixed with an archaic need for revenge for Putin's warlike crimes in Ukraine according to the motto: "If we can't get hold of Putin, then we'll hold his accomplices harmless." Added to this is the feeling of helplessness of the West to do something after all.

The advantage of expropriation: Unlike an embargo on gas and oil or the supply of heavy weapons, the oligarchs' billions would be free of charge, so to speak.

I found at least one debatable justification for the oligarchs' expropriation during my research.

It comes from Kilian Wegner, a professor of commercial criminal law at the European University in Frankfurt (Oder).

Wegner proposes the creation of a

suspicious wealth order in the "Legal Tribune Online" (LTO).

in the EU: a preventive confiscation of assets of suspicious origin.

This is intended to authorize the state to request information from the formal owners of large assets (everything over 100,000 euros) who combine certain risk characteristics about the source of the assets and who is in fact in control of them.

If the information is refused or if there is the impression that the information is not correct, the assets can be confiscated and nationalized.

The proposal responds to the fact that the oligarchs' yachts and villas usually do not sail under the real name of the billionaire, but use an anonymous company address in the Caribbean.

Keywords: