G7 finance leaders pledge cooperation on Iran sanctions, frozen Russian assets

FILE PHOTO: Man walks past the IMF logo at HQ in Washington

By David Lawder and Andrea Shalal

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -Finance leaders from the Group of Seven industrial democracies on Wednesday condemned Iran's attack on Israel and pledged to continue work on "all possible avenues" to harness frozen Russian sovereign assets to aid Ukraine.

In a joint statement issued after a meeting, the G7 finance ministers and central bank governors said they would "ensure close coordination of any future measure to diminish Iran's ability to acquire, produce, or transfer weapons to support destabilizing regional activities."

The ministers met on the sidelines of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank spring meetings in Washington and said that they view risks in the global economy as "more balanced" amid recent resilience to multiple shocks, with inflation receding.

"Central Banks remain strongly committed to achieving price stability and will continue to calibrate their policies in a data-dependent manner. Price and financial stability are a pre-requisite for sustainable and balanced growth," the G7 officials said.

But the group said there were significant geopolitical risks to the outlook, primarily from Russia's war in Ukraine and conflict in the Middle East, which "could affect trade, supply chains and commodity prices."

The G7 finance officials said they were strongly committed to help Ukraine meet urgent short-term financing needs as it struggles against Russia's invasion, including harnessing extraordinary revenues stemming from frozen Russian assets.

"We reaffirm our determination to ensure that Russia pays for the damage it has caused to Ukraine. Russia’s sovereign assets in our jurisdictions will remain immobilized until then, consistent with our respective legal systems," the G7 officials said.

The statement did not include a specific plan for the assets, but said they would "continue working on all possible avenues by which immobilized Russian sovereign assets could be made use of to support Ukraine" with a view to presenting options to G7 leaders at a June summit in Italy.


Earlier on Wednesday, Deputy U.S. Treasury Secretary Wally Adeyemo said the G7 discussions on frozen Russian sovereign assets, estimated at about $300 billion, were still a "work in progress."

Adeyemo told an event hosted by the Semafor news outlet that finance ministers were doing technical work to come up with options that still include building a strong legal foundation for outright seizure of the assets.

"We're talking through a number of different options. One of them is seizure, but another is collateralizing, or even using the windfall profits or the interest from these assets to fund a loan," Adeyemo said.

Because the bulk of the assets are being held in Europe, it was important that the U.S. work closely with European allies on the issue, Adeyemo said.

French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said on Wednesday that the G7 needed to be in a position to harness the interest earned on the assets.

"These revenues are estimated between 3 billion to 5 billion euros per year, depending on the level of the interest rates," Le Maire said. "So our proposal is to better understand and better define how these 3 to 5 billion euros could be used over the next month to help Ukraine and to help the Ukrainian government. So let's focus on that question."

(Reporting by David Lawder and Andrea Shalal; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Leslie Adler)