The Honourable Mélanie Joly, Minister of Foreign Affairs, today announced that the Government of Canada had ordered the seizure of a Russian-registered cargo aircraft currently grounded at Toronto Pearson Airport, pursuant to the Special Economic Measures Act.
The targeted Russian aircraft, an Antonov 124, is believed to be owned by a subsidiary of Volga-Dnepr Airlines LLC and Volga-Dnepr Group, two entities against which Canada recently imposed sanctions due to their complicity in President Putin’s war of choice. The seizure of the asset was made possible by the new asset seizure and forfeiture authorities under Canada’s autonomous sanctions regimes put forward in Budget 2022 and is in direct response to Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine that began on February 24, 2022.
The seizure of this important asset is the first step of the Government of Canada’s action under the asset seizure and forfeiture regime and is designed to put additional pressure on Russia to stop its illegal war against Ukraine by straining its economic system and limiting resources that fuel the war. This is the first physical asset seized by the Government of Canada under this regime, and second overall seized and restrained under the Special Economic Measures Act.
The Government of Canada will seize the asset and manage it in accordance with federal legislation. Should the asset ultimately be forfeited to the Crown, Canada will work with the Government of Ukraine on options to redistribute this asset to compensate victims of human rights abuses, restore international peace and security, or rebuild Ukraine.
By authorizing the seizure of the Antonov 124, Canada reaffirms that impunity is not an option for those who have profited from Russia’s illegal war in Ukraine.
- Following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Canada and its G7 and other allies jointly decided to take additional steps to isolate Russia from the international financial system and impose consequences for its actions.
- Canada made amendments to the Special Economic Measures Act and the Justice for Victims of Corrupt Foreign Officials Act. The amendments, which entered into force in June 2022, provide the authorities for the Government to seize, forfeit, dispose and redistribute assets belonging to sanctioned individuals and entities.
- The aircraft, the largest cargo aircraft, is the second asset that Canada has seized/restrained under the Special Economic Measures Act. In December 2022, an order-in-council was announced to restrain US$26 million from Granite Capital Holdings Ltd., a company believed to be owned by Roman Abramovich, a Russian oligarch sanctioned under the Special Economic Measures (Russia) Regulations.
- Global Affairs Canada will work with Public Services and Procurement Canada’s Seized Property Management Directorate to evaluate the condition of the asset and manage it through the seizure and forfeiture process.