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UKRAINE

France freezes €850 million of Russian assets

France has seized around €850 million of Russian oligarchs' assets on its soil, Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said on Sunday. 

France freezes €850 million of Russian assets
French Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire speaks during a press conference to present an economic and social resilience plan, in Paris, on March 16, 2022. (Photo by Thomas SAMSON / AFP)

“We have immobilised … 150 million euros in individual’s accounts, credit lines in France and in French establishments,” Le Maire told French television as Paris hits Moscow over its invasion of Ukraine. 

Furthermore, “we have immobilised 539 million euros in real estate on French territory, corresponding to some 390 properties or apartments and we have sequestered two yachts (with a value of) 150 million euros,” said Le Maire. 

“In total that is (almost) 850 millions euros in assets belonging to Russian oligarchs which have been immobilised on French soil,” he added.  The French crackdown means the owners are unable to, sell on or monetise their assets. 

Notwithstanding, “they are not seized in the sense that the state becomes the owner and could then sell them on.

For there to be seizure there has to be a penal offence”, Le Maire stipulated. 

“The sanctions are hitting Russia, the state, Vladimir Putin hard,” Le Maire went on. 

Since Russian began its war in Ukraine on February 24 Western states have responded with a wide-ranging package of stiff financial sanctions. 

On Friday, Russia’s central bank said the extent of the sanctions would make macro economic forecasting “extremely difficult”. 

Four days after the invasion began Moscow hiked its main interest rate from 9.5 to 20 percent and the response to the conflict has largely cut Russia’s financial sector off from the global economy. 

SEE ALSO: Côte d’Azur mansions, jets, yachts: What is France likely to seize from Russian oligarchs?

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POLICE

France proposes getting rid of penalties for ‘minor’ speeding offences

The French government is considering changing speeding laws so that drivers will not lose points on their licence if they are caught going just a few kilometres over the speed limit.

France proposes getting rid of penalties for 'minor' speeding offences

France’s Interior Ministry is considering changing its current rules for minor speeding violations – proposing getting rid of the penalty for drivers who only violate the rule by going just a few kilometres over the speed limit.

The Ministry has not laid out a timeline for when this could come into effect, but they said they are currently in the preliminary stages of studying how the change could be carried out.

“The fine of course remains,” said the Interior Ministry to French daily Le Parisien.

That is to say you can still be fined for going five kilometres over the speed limit, but there might not be any more lost points for driving a couple kilometres over the posted limit. 

READ ALSO These are the offences that can cost you points on your driving licence

Of the 13 million speeding tickets issued each year in France, 58 percent are for speeding violations of less than 5 km per hour over the limit, with many coming from automated radar machines.

How does the current rule work?

The rule itself is already a bit flexible, depending on where the speeding violation occurs.

If the violation happens in an urban area or low-speed zone (under 50 km per hour limit), then it is considered a 4th class offence, which involves a fixed fine of €135. Drivers can also lose a point on their licences as a penalty for this offence. 

Whereas, on highways and high-speed roads, the consequences of speeding by 5 km per hour are less severe. The offence is only considered 3rd class, which means the fixed fine is €68. There is still the possibility of losing a point on your licence, however. 

How do people feel about this?

Pierre Chasseray, a representative from the organisation “40 Millions d’Automobilistes,” thinks the government should do away with all penalties for minor speeding offences, including fines. He told French daily Le Parisien that this is only a “first step.”

Meanwhile, others are concerned that the move to get rid of points-deductions could end up encouraging people to speed, as they’ll think there is no longer any consequence.

To avoid being accused of carelessness, France’s Interior Ministry is also promising to become “firmer” with regards to people who use other people’s licences in order to get out of losing points – say by sending their spouse’s or grandmother’s instead of their own after being caught speeding. The Interior Ministry plans to digitalise license and registration in an effort to combat this. 

Ultimately, if you are worried about running out of points on your licence, there are still ways to recover them.

You can recover your points after six months of driving without committing any other offences, and there are also awareness training courses that allow you to gain your points back. It should be noted, however, that these trainings typically cost between €150 and €250, and they do not allow you to regain more than four points.

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