At a moment of Congressional stalemate in Washington and fiscal overload in Brussels, the idea of unlocking £300billion of frozen Russian assets to sustain Ukraine looks like an ideal solution.

The United States, and Britain’s David Cameron, are keen. 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.

Yet to do so, as EU leaders have recognised, could have far-reaching legal and financial implications.

Underpinning Western democracies is the rule of law.

Fund grab: The United States, and Britain's David Cameron (pictured), are keen to unlock £300bn of frozen Russian assets to sustain Ukraine

Fund grab: The United States, and Britain’s David Cameron (pictured), are keen to unlock £300bn of frozen Russian assets to sustain Ukraine

Indeed, it is among the reasons that the City is regarded so highly around the world. The stock exchange may be struggling but London is the dominant centre for foreign exchange dealing and UK-based banks are a safe haven for sovereign deposits.

Using sanctioned funds would take a bargaining chip off the table if, and when, Moscow and the West decide that the war on Ukraine has to end. 

But it would also serve as a signal to countries which keep funds in the West to think about other choices.

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

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

Disgorging dollar holdings held in Western financial institutions could unleash an exit from dollar and other assets, triggering a fresh great financial crisis.

The search is on for more practical solutions. One proposal is to raise large syndicated loans using seized Russian assets as collateral. The bonds could be redeemed from the seized funds as part of a settlement deal.

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

Another idea is for Kyiv to issue ‘reparation bonds’ backed by claims for war damages to eventually be met from 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 placed his trust in failed financier Lex Greensill?

Female deficit

Women have long faced all manner of obstacles to advancement in business. And it is unforgivable that there are only ten female chief executives in the FTSE 100.

It is vitally important that improved pathways to the top are created with more women occupying executive board roles or with direct reporting 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 nation’s biggest private enterprises.

There are two encouraging numbers. The number of women in key executive roles has increased to 35 per cent, while female representation in the boardroom is up to 42 per cent. 

Critically, women are increasingly represented in vital roles such as finance director – often a path to the top job.

The voluntary process is working. But misogyny and poor behaviour in Britain’s boardrooms and at the CBI is still a problem. 

It is fascinating to note that of the ten best performing companies for women executives, including top of the league Burberry, only Diageo has a female boss. Disturbing.

Jacob Rothschild

I came to know Lord Jacob Rothschild when interviewing him extensively for a biography of late World Bank president James Wolfensohn, who had a long family connection to the Rothschild dynasty.

Jacob was both modest and charming. He bore the Rothschild name proudly and the philanthropic responsibilities, which come with it, in spite of having to strike out on his own when falling out with his cousin Evelyn over the stewardship of the London bank NM Rothschild. 

He created an investment empire, centred on the Rothschild Investment Trust, currently valued at £2.65billion, with greater value than the combined Rothschild banks. 

He never stinted in his charitable commitments towards institution building in Israel and medical research and the arts in Britain. 

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

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