French Riviera real estate firms ignoring Russia sanctions, authority says

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PARIS — Most real estate agencies in the South of France are not doing their part to implement EU sanctions against Russian oligarchs, French authorities announced today.

The Directorate General for Competition, Consumer Affairs and Fraud Control (DGCCRF) last year carried out an investigation in some municipalities in France’s Alpes-Maritimes department, where several Russian oligarchs own luxury villas.

The probe found that around 60 percent of real estate agencies were not cooperating with authorities, for instance by checking whether their clients’ names appeared on the EU’s sanctions list and, if they were listed, then freezing their assets.

The European Union has adopted nine packages of sanctions against Russia since Moscow launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine last year, including listing individuals whose assets should be frozen and restricting their travel.

Many Russian oligarchs on this list own villas and yachts in France, including former Chelsea Football Club owner Roman Abramovich, whose Château de la Croë villa near the resort town of Antibes was frozen, and Rosneft oil giant boss Igor Sechin, whose 85-meter mega yacht, the “Amore Vero,” was also seized at a French shipyard.

By August last year, France had already frozen Russian assets worth €1.2 billion.