New state law prohibits Russians and Russian-controlled companies from buying property in Indiana

Russians and Russian-controlled companies are now banned from buying property in Indiana for a year after Governor Eric Holcomb signed a bill containing the ban on Friday.

The ban on purchases of Russian properties was added as an amendment to Senate Bill 388 and authored by Democrat Ryan Dvorak, who represents South Bend District 8 in the Indiana Statehouse.

The bill also prohibits foreign ownership of actively cultivated agricultural or forest land – with exemptions for concentrated animal feed operations, egg or poultry farming and research and development – ​​and requires universities to disclose foreign donations over $250,000 to the state.

Dvorak said he has been interested in the issue since Russia annexed Crimea in 2014. Since then, he has proposed several pieces of legislation requiring public pension funds to divest Russian-controlled assets, but none were adopted.

But following the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Dvorak introduced two amendments to SB 388 – one on pension divestment and the other on Russian property purchases.

The first was overruled by House Speaker Todd Huston as too unrelated to the bill, but the second passed. It prohibits Russians, Russian businesses, or Russian-controlled businesses from buying property in Indiana from July 1, 2022 through July 1, 2023.

“As far as I know, we are the first state in the country to do this,” Dvorak said. “I think it’s important until we really understand what exactly is going on, what the scale of this investment is, that we say we’re going to have a one-year ban on this.”

Dvorak said the ban is a way to fight money laundering by Russian oligarchs.

“The first thing you think of is the big yachts you see on TV, parked in the Mediterranean, or maybe luxury townhouses in London or a condo in Miami Beach,” Dvorak said. . “But that’s not quite it – Russian oligarchs have invested in companies all over the world. They buy sports teams; they really buy anything they can to save their money and exert influence.

Russian citizens living legally in the United States are exempt from the ban.

The final version of the bill passed the House and Senate unanimously 49 to 1. Governor Eric Holcomb signed it into law on March 18.

Dvorak said it was “a good start,” but he still wants to do more.

“It gives us some time to really go into the next session with maybe more comprehensive legislation,” Dvorak said. “Hopefully this crisis will have resolved itself, but if not, we would be prepared to take more action.”

Contact Jakob at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter at @JakobLazzaro.

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