U.K. Russia Sanctions Update
25 FEBRUARY 2022
Following the designation of VTB Bank on 24 February, the UK issued a general licence permitting the wind-down of transactions involving VTB Bank and a number of related UK subsidiaries. The licence permits through to 27 March 2022 the winding-down of commitments (although not the provision of funds or economic resources to a party subject to UK sanctions in respect of Russia.
26 FEBRUARY 2022
On 26 February 2021, a number of countries including the US, UK, France, Germany, and Italy released a coordinated statement outlining their commitment to further sanctions measures in response to the Ukraine conflict. Those measures are likely to include:
- Removal of certain Russian banks from the SWIFT messaging system.
- Restrictive measures to prevent the Russian Central Bank from deploying its international reserves to counteract the impact of sanctions.
- Targeting individuals and entities determined to be facilitating the invasion of Ukraine, which will include limiting “golden passport” facilities which enable wealthy Russians to gain citizenship and access to financial systems outside of Russia.
Further details are awaited.
28 FEBRUARY 2022
The UK imposed asset-freeze measures against:
- BANK OTKRITIE FINANCIAL CORPORATION PJSC
- PJSC SOVCOMBANK
At the time of writing these measures appear to align with equivalent measures imposed by OFAC.
1 MARCH 2022
The UK passed new legislation which affects ships with a Russian nexus calling at UK ports.
On 28 February the UK Transport Secretary Grant Shapps issued a letter warning of the UK Government's intention to legislate to prohibit Russian ships entering UK ports as a national measure to complement the package of sanctions being developed in response to the invasion of Ukraine. The new legislation requires port authorities to prohibit port entry to:
(a) a ship owned, controlled, chartered or operated by a designated person,
(b) a ship owned, controlled, chartered or operated by persons connected with Russia,
(c) a ship flying the flag of Russia,
(d) a ship registered in Russia, or
(e) a specified ship.
There is also a power of detention. It is expected that a number of other countries will adopt similar measures.
The UK Government also announced further designations requiring freezing of funds and economic resources of certain persons, entities or bodies involved in destabilising Ukraine or undermining or threatening the territorial integrity, sovereignty or independence of Ukraine, or obtaining a benefit from or supporting the Government of Russia.
Those newly designated include:
- Kirill Alexandrovich DMITRIEV
- RUSSIAN DIRECT INVESTMENT FUND
This follows the designation of Dmitriev on 28 February 2022 under EO 14024. Dmitriev is reported to be the CEO of The Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF), and Joint Stock Company Management Company of the Russian Direct Investment Fund (JSC RDIF), which are reported to operate in a number of industries in Russia, such as insurance and financial services.
Separately, the UK also added the following Belarusian individuals and entities to the consolidated list and are now subject to an asset freeze:
- Andrei Burdyko
- Victor Vladimirovich Gulevich
- Sergei Simonenko
- Andrey Zhuk
- JSC 558 Aircraft Repair Plant
- JSC Integral
These designations were made on the basis of Belarus support for Russian military operations in Ukraine.
In addition to the above actions, the UK also redefined the designation applicable to PJSC SBERBANK (SBERBANK). Whereas Sberbank was subject to certain financial and investment restrictions (directly or indirectly dealing with a transferable security or money market instrument if it has a maturity exceeding 30 days), Sberbank is now also subject to correspondent banking restrictions. At the time of writing Sberbank is not subject to asset freeze measures and is also the beneficiary of a wind-down general license in respect of correspondent banking activities.
OFSI also published the following three general licenses on 1 March:
- GL INT/2022/1277777: providing for a 7-day winding-down period applying to sovereign debt, loans and money market instruments expiring on 8 March.
- GL INT/2022/1277778: providing for a 30-day winding-down period applying to clearing and correspondent banking provisions (applicable specifically to Sberbank). This authorises UK credit or financial institutions and to continue to provide correspondent banking relationships and process sterling payments to, from or via Sberbank (or entities it owns or controls) until 31 March 2022.
- GL INT 2022/1277877: extending until 24 June the winding-down period applying under GL INT/2022/1277778 in respect of the clearing and correspondent bank prohibitions, where those payments relate to “relevant energy products”, namely crude oil, gas, and petroleum products.
Also on 1 March the UK implemented new restrictions on the provision of financial services for the purpose of foreign exchange reserve and asset management.
The Russia (Sanctions) (EU Exit) (Amendment) (No. 5) Regulations 2022 prohibit a UK individual or entity from providing financial services for the purpose of foreign exchange reserve and asset management to:
- the Central Bank of the Russian Federation
- the National Wealth Fund of the Russian Federation
- the Ministry of Finance of the Russian Federation
- a person owned or controlled directly or indirectly by any of the persons above; or
- a person acting on behalf of or at the direction of any of the persons above