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First Sanctions Evasion Charges are Brought in the UK

Author: Azizur Rahman  2 February 2024

Aziz Rahman outlines the case’s significance, the issues involved and the likelihood of more such charges in the future.

The UK charged former Russian deputy trade minister Dmitry Ovsyannikov with sanctions evasion and money laundering. This is the first time someone has been charged with sanctions evasion since the 2018 introduction of the UK’s autonomous post-Brexit sanctions regime.

Ovsyannikov was granted bail after pleading not guilty at Westminster Magistrates’ Court to seven charges of breaching the UK’s Russia sanctions regime and two counts of money laundering. The matter is to be heard at Southwark Crown Court, where a 20 February hearing is scheduled.

The Crown Prosecution Service has accused Ovsyannikov of breaching sanctions that the UK government first imposed on him in 2017 for allegedly supporting the Russian government and undermining the territorial integrity of Ukraine. 

He is alleged to have breached sanctions by opening a bank account with Lloyds Banking Group-owned HBOS in or before February 2023 and depositing €76,000 (£65,000) into it. He is also accused of “entering into an arrangement with another” to obtain car insurance and access to a vehicle, and of handling criminal property by having £76,500 cash in his possession.

After serving as governor of the Russian-occupied Ukrainian city of Sevastopol from 2017 to 2019, Ovsyannikov was Russia’s deputy minister of industry and trade for six months until April 2020.

Significant

While this is just one case, it could prove significant. It shows that law enforcement is prepared to show its strength and take action in such situations – and it could prove to be just the first of many such cases.

Such cases may not be without their problems. They involve conducting a balancing act between the need for foreign policy to be seen as being strong regarding Vladimir Putin and Russia and the possible legal implications.

The speed at which the relevant legislation was brought in means that it would be unsurprising if we were to see difficult issues arising. This was a situation that has proved to be an unprecedented test for a new sanctions regime in the UK – and other countries have faced similar challenges. This, it could be argued, means that the situation is not satisfactory as there is the risk of foreign policy and the legislation not reflecting each other.

Azizur Rahman C 09369

Azizur Rahman

Senior Partner

aziz.rahman@rahmanravelli.co.uk
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Aziz Rahman is Senior Partner at Rahman Ravelli and its founder. His ability to coordinate national, international and multi-agency defences has led to success in some of the most significant corporate crime cases of this century and top rankings in international legal guides. He is recognised worldwide as one of the most capable legal experts regarding top-level, high-value commercial and financial disputes.

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