Home Money Russian asset grab would undermine the rule of law, says ALEX BRUMMER

Russian asset grab would undermine the rule of law, says ALEX BRUMMER

by Elijah
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Fundraising: US and Britain's David Cameron (pictured) are interested in unlocking £300bn of frozen Russian assets to prop up Ukraine.



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At a time of deadlock in Congress in Washington and fiscal overload in Brussels, the idea of ​​unlocking £300bn of frozen Russian assets to prop up Ukraine seems an ideal solution.

The United States and the British David Cameron are interested. Berlin and Paris are less enthusiastic.

The temptation to use frozen funds is strong given the barbaric nature of Vladimir Putin’s invasion of a sovereign country.

However, doing so, as EU leaders have acknowledged, could have far-reaching legal and financial implications.

The foundation of Western democracies is the rule of law.

Fundraising: US and Britain's David Cameron (pictured) are interested in unlocking £300bn of frozen Russian assets to prop up Ukraine.

Fundraising: US and Britain’s David Cameron (pictured) are interested in unlocking £300bn of frozen Russian assets to prop up Ukraine.

In fact, it is one of the reasons why the city is so loved around the world. The stock market may be struggling, but London is the dominant center for currency trading and UK-based banks are a safe haven for sovereign deposits.

The use of sanctioned funds would take a bargaining chip off the table if and when Moscow and the West decide that the war against Ukraine has to end.

But it would also serve as a signal for countries that keep funds in the West to think about other options.

The biggest risk, by far, would be China. There has long been confidence in Washington that Beijing has no alternative but to hold most of its £2.5 trillion of official reserves in US Treasuries and bonds.

The current tense relations between Washington and Beijing over Taiwan could well cause China’s leader Xi Jinping to consider whether this is wise to continue, should the Group of Seven countries play fast and loose with the frozen Russian assets.

The return of dollar holdings held in Western financial institutions could trigger an outflow of the dollar and other assets, triggering a new major financial crisis.

The search for more practical solutions continues. One proposal is to obtain large syndicated loans using seized Russian assets as collateral. The bonds could be redeemed with the funds seized as part of a settlement agreement.

Other suggestions are for allies to use the interest earned on frozen assets, leaving the capital intact.

Another idea is for kyiv to issue “reparation bonds” backed by war damage claims that will eventually be covered by frozen assets.

What is abundantly clear is that David Cameron’s gung-ho approach should not be a runner. But what can we expect from a politician who put his trust in failed financier Lex Greensill?

Female deficit

Women have long faced all kinds of obstacles to advancing in business. And it is inexcusable that there are only ten female CEOs in the FTSE 100.

It is vitally important that better pathways to the top are created with more women holding executive board positions or with direct access to the ‘C’ suite.

There has been progress, according to the latest FTSE Women Leaders Review, which, for the first time, also seeks to monitor developments at the country’s largest private companies.

There are two encouraging figures. The number of women in key executive positions has increased to 35 percent, while female representation in boardrooms reaches 42 percent.

Crucially, women are increasingly represented in vital roles such as CFO, which is often a path to the top job.

The voluntary process is working. But misogyny and bad behavior in British boardrooms and the CBI remain a problem.

It’s fascinating to note that of the ten best-performing companies for female executives, including leader Burberry, only Diageo has a female boss. Disturbing.

Jacob Rothschild

I met Lord Jacob Rothschild when I interviewed him at length for a biography of the late World Bank president James Wolfensohn, who had a long family connection with the Rothschild dynasty.

Jacob was both modest and charming. He proudly carried the Rothschild name and the philanthropic responsibilities that came with it, despite having to act on his behalf when he fell out with his cousin Evelyn over the management of the London bank NM Rothschild.

He created an investment empire, centered on the Rothschild Investment Trust, currently valued at £2.65bn, worth more than the Rothschild banks combined.

He never shied away from his charitable commitments to institution-building in Israel and medical research and the arts in Britain.

It is a formidable legacy and leaves a giant void in British society.

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