Ukraine-Russia conflict: Nicola Sturgeon seeking advice on 'seizing and freezing' Russian assets in Scotland

Russians with links to Vladimir Putin and assets in Scotland could face their assets being seized or frozen by the Scottish Government, which could reach individuals not on the UK Government’s own sanctions list, Nicola Sturgeon has said.

The First Minister told MSPs that following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, she had sought “urgent advice” as to whether the Scottish Government was able to take action against those connected to the Russian president.

It comes as finance minister Kate Forbes published an open letter to all Scottish businesses pleading with them to end any trading with Russia to show solidarity with Ukraine.

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Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon during First Minster's Questions

Ms Sturgeon announced the review of the Scottish Government’s ability to freeze or seize Russian assets after Scottish Green MSP Ross Greer raised the case of Vladimir Lisin.

Mr Lisin, a Russian billionaire steel magnate, owns Aberuchill Castle and Estate in Perthshire and is a shooting sports enthusiast.

Mr Greer said the tycoon’s 3,000-acre estate had received almost £700,000 in agricultural subsidies between 2016 and 2019.

He said: “Can I ask the First Minister if the Scottish Government will urgently review the agricultural payment system and any other relevant payment system to ensure that no member of the Russian elite, no Kremlin associate, is in receipt of public money here in Scotland?"

Ms Sturgeon said she would “ensure” such a review would take place and announced she had sought “urgent advice” about the “maximum possible action” the Scottish Government was able to take against those connected to Mr Putin.

The First Minister said this would cover individuals with “close links with the Russian regime” regardless of whether they were on the UK’s sanctions list.

She said: “Options that will be examined will include, but are not limited to ending support from the public purse and freezing or seizing assets in Scotland where that is possible.

"I can tell Parliament that the Scottish Government and our economic agencies will not support trade and investment activity with Russia.

"We will, of course, support businesses to adapt and remove any and all links with Russia.”

In her letter to businesses, Ms Forbes described a global “wave of revulsion” directed towards Russia, stating everyone had a “moral duty” to act to support Ukraine.

She wrote: “Many businesses, sporting and cultural organisations have shown commendable corporate values and leadership, in divesting their interests in Russia, their trading relationships with Russian entities and their participation in lucrative Russian contracts.

“We support these decisions and would encourage all Scottish businesses to follow their example.

"Beyond direct investments, reviewing operations for links and connections to Russia – however indirect – and then severing them is the right decision.”

The finance minister said the Scottish Government would support businesses who chose to sever ties with Russia.

She said: “I welcome the effort being undertaken right now by businesses across Scotland to do exactly that, and encourage them to continue to conduct this work at pace, and with due regard for the safety of any employees or individuals you may work with.”

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