Russian prosecutors warn Western firms of arrests, asset seizures

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Russian prosecutors warned Western companies that criticism of Moscow’s war on Ukraine could lead to arrests of corporate leaders or seizure of assets in the country. 

Companies that received the warning included Coca-Cola, McDonald’s, Procter & Gamble, IBM and Yum Brands, people familiar with the matter told The Wall Street Journal.

The threats came in the form of calls, letters and visits threatening to take legal action against the companies and seize assets including their trademarks, the newspaper reported.

Sources told the Journal that the threats prompted at least one of the companies to limit communications between its Russian business and the rest of the organization.

Since Moscow attacked Ukraine, many private companies — ranging from oil companies and retailers to sports organizations and media — have cut ties with Russia as the country becomes ever more isolated from the global economy. 

“Russia’s attack on Ukraine is an act of aggression which is having tragic consequences across the region,” Helge Lund, chairman of BP, said in a statement at the time of his company’s withdrawal last month, noting it worked with “brilliant” Russian colleagues over 30 years in the country. 

“However, this military action represents a fundamental change. It has led the bp board to conclude, after a thorough process, that our involvement with Rosneft, a state-owned enterprise, simply cannot continue,” Lund added. 

Last week, Russian President Vladimir Putin voiced possible support for a law that would allow the Kremlin to nationalize assets of foreign companies that leave Russia as a result of its invasion of Ukraine, a move that the White House warned against on Friday. 

“Any lawless decision by Russia to seize the assets of these companies will ultimately result in even more economic pain for Russia,” White House press secretary Jenn Psaki tweeted. “It will compound the clear message to the global business community that Russia is not a safe place to invest and do business.” 

Tags Coca-Cola Co. IBM McDonald's Procter & Gamble UKRAINE RUSSIA Vladimir Putin Yum Brands
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