On 5 July 2022, the UK Government introduced a further round of financial, trade and transport sanctions against Belarus in response to its continuing support of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.  The new sanctions measures were implemented pursuant to The Republic of Belarus (Sanctions) (EU Exit) (Amendment) Regulations 2022 (“Amended Regulations”), which extends a range of sanctions measures previously introduced against Russia to Belarus.

Continue Reading UK Introduces Further Economic Sanctions Against Belarus Including Financial, Trade & Transport Sanctions

On 29 June 2022, HM Treasury’s Office of Financial Sanctions Implementation (OFSI) announced that a monetary penalty of £15,000 was imposed on 19 May 2022 against Tracerco Limited (Tracerco) for breaches of The Syria (European Union Financial Sanctions) Regulations 2012 (the UK Regulations).  Tracerco is a UK registered company based in the UAE and a subsidiary of Johnson Matthey, also a UK company.

According to OFSI’s penalty report, Tracerco made two payments to Syrian Arab Airlines (SAA) for an employee’s flights home between May 2017 and August 2018.  According to OFSI, the payments, which had a total value of £2,956.43, resulted in funds being made available for the benefit of a person designated under Council Regulation (EU) No 36/2012 (i.e., SAA).  Tracerco booked the flights through a UAE-based travel agency and then refunded the travel agency for the cost of the flights.

The Tracerco case represents the seventh use of OFSI’s civil monetary penalty powers since they were introduced under Part 8 of the Policing and Crime Act 2017 (PACA).  Several useful hints as to OFSI’s enforcement priorities can be discerned from the Tracerco case.

Continue Reading UK Oil Services Company Becomes Seventh Company to Receive OFSI Monetary Penalty for Sanctions Breaches

On June 23, 2022, the UK government adopted its latest package of trade sanctions measures against Russia in response to its continued military aggression in Ukraine.  The new sanctions measures were implemented pursuant to The Russia (Sanctions) (EU Exit) (Amendment) (No. 10) Regulations 2022 (“Russia Regulations Amendment No. 10”), which introduce a tranche

On June 15, 2022, the United Kingdom will introduce a strict civil liability standard for violations of UK financial sanctions committed after that date.  In anticipation of this important change to the enforcement powers of HM Treasury’s Office of Financial Sanctions Implementation (OFSI), the OFSI enforcement and monetary penalties for breaches of financial sanctions guidance (Monetary Penalties Guidance) has been updated and will take effect from June 15.  OFSI Director, Giles Thomson, also has outlined OFSI’s enforcement approach in light of these imminent changes in a blog post.

For more information on how these developments could impact your organization, contact the author of this post, Alexandra Melia, in Steptoe’s Economic Sanctions team in London.

Continue Reading UK Updates Sanctions Enforcement Guidance in Readiness for Imminent Introduction of Strict Civil Liability for Financial Sanctions Breaches

Between April 18 and May 2, 2022, the US government continued to ratchet up economic sanctions, export controls, and other restrictive trade measures targeting Russia.  Most significantly, on April 21, President Biden issued a Proclamation prohibiting “Russian-affiliated vessels” from entering US ports.  Otherwise, the US government has focused on utilizing its existing authorities to impose further costs on Russia.

Over the last two weeks of April, the US Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) designated over 40 individuals and entities including Transkapitalbank (TKB), re-issued an expanded set of Ukraine- / Russia- Sanctions Regulations (URSR), and issued several new or revised general licenses, including one relating to the provision of assistance by nongovernmental organizations, and 8 Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs).

Separately, the Commerce Department’s Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) continues to be focused on restricting the Russian aviation sector, issuing a temporary denial order (TDO) on the Russian cargo aircraft carrier, Aviastar, for operating aircraft on flights into and out of Russia without the BIS authorization required under the Export Administration Regulations (EAR), and providing weekly updates to its list of commercial and private aircraft operated in potential violation of the EAR.

Continue Reading April 18 – May 2, 2022 Russian Sanctions Update

Since March 14, 2022, the United Kingdom has continued to introduce and announce new sanctions measures in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.  The new UK measures include sanctions enforcement powers under the Economic Crime (Transparency and Enforcement) Act 2022, the designation of hundreds of individuals and entities under the UK’s Russia and Belarus sanctions regimes, the introduction of new general licences, the introduction and announcement of new sanctions measures, and the revision of various guidance documents.

Continue Reading A Summary of New UK Sanctions Enforcement Powers and Further Ukraine-related UK Sanctions on Russia and Belarus

As of March 20, 2022, a new Executive Order (EO) prohibited certain imports, exports, the transfer of US dollar banknotes to Russia, and new investments involving certain sectors of the Russian economy.  The US Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) also issued new General Licenses and Frequently Asked Question (FAQ) guidance. Additionally, the US Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Industry & Security (BIS) announced new regulations to control the export, reexport, and transfer (in country) of certain luxury goods to or within Russia and Belarus. BIS also identified numerous aircraft subject to US export controls jurisdiction that had flown to Russia without a license, and issued a reminder regarding the restrictions under General Prohibition 10 under the Export Administration Regulations (EAR) of servicing such aircraft.

Key points of these US sanctions developments and export controls are summarized below.

For a summary of US sanctions and export controls adopted between February 21 and March 8, 2022, see this Steptoe blog post.

Continue Reading Update: New US Sanctions on Russia Target Certain Imports, Exports, Dollar Banknotes, and Investments

Since March 8, 2022, the United Kingdom has continued to introduce and announce new sanctions and export controls measures in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.  The new UK measures include the designation of hundreds of individuals, the introduction of new sanctions measures under the sixth amendment to The Russia (EU Exit) (Sanctions) Regulations 2019 (Russia Regulations), amendments to VTB Bank general licence INT/2022/1272278, removal of Belarus from nine open general export licences (OGELs), and the announcement of the UK’s intention to phase out Russian oil imports by the end of 2022.

Continue Reading Round Up of New UK Sanctions and Export Controls on Russia and Belarus

On March 4, 2022, HM Treasury’s Office of Financial Sanctions Implementation (OFSI) published an updated version of its Russia guidance and issued two new general licences permitting the wind down of positions with Sberbank and involving Bank Otkritie, Promsvyazbank, Bank Rossiya, Sovcombank, and VEB.  The UK government also put forward a series of amendments to the Economic Crime (Transparency and Enforcement) Bill proponents say is needed to crack down on corrupt elites and ramp up pressure on President Putin’s regime.

Continue Reading Update: OFSI Publishes Updated Russia Guidance; Issues New General Licences; and UK Amends Draft Economic Crime Legislation to Move “Harder and Faster” with Sanctions

On March 1, 2022, four new amendments to The Russia (Sanctions) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019 (Russia Regulations) were laid before parliament and came into immediate effect.  The amendments revise the financial and investment restrictions provisions contained in Part 3, Chapter 2 and the trade sanctions provisions set out in Part 5.  New restrictions also have been introduced banning Russian ships from UK ports under Part 6 and introducing restrictions on the provision of financial services for the purpose of foreign exchange reserve and asset management.

Continue Reading Update: New UK Russia Sanctions Legislation Comes into Effect, Suspension of Export Licences for Dual-Use Items to Russia, Additional Designations and New General Licences