Today, Foreign Secretary James Cleverly announced new sanctions aimed at individuals and entities that have knowingly helped Russian oligarchs hide their assets amidst the ongoing international sanctions due to Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine. Over £18 billion of Russian and other assets have been frozen in the UK, prompting oligarchs to use financial fixers, offshore trusts, shell companies, and even family members to protect their wealth.
UK experts have traced and identified those responsible for facilitating this activity, imposing direct sanctions such as asset freezes, travel bans, transport sanctions, and trust services sanctions. Various UK government departments are working together to enforce these sanctions and pursue those attempting to undermine them.
Among those sanctioned are Cypriot financial fixers Demetris Ioannides and Christodoulos Vassiliades, who have supported Russian oligarchs Roman Abramovich and Alisher Usmanov. Ioannides created offshore structures used by Abramovich to hide over £760 million in assets, while Vassiliades is linked to a network of trusts and offshore companies connecting Usmanov to Sutton Place Estate.
Usmanov’s financial network, including companies USM, Curzon Square Limited, and Hanley Limited, has also been targeted. These sanctions ensure that assets associated with Usmanov, such as the £90 million Beechwood House mansion in London, remain frozen. Family members of other oligarchs, who have acted as proxies to hide assets, are also included in the new sanctions.
The UK is taking further action to crack down on evasion and circumvention, including a £50 million investment in the new Economic Deterrence Initiative to support sanctions enforcement and continued collaboration with international partners. The Home Secretary has also announced the expansion of the National Crime Agency’s Combating Kleptocracy Cell to target corrupt elites and their enablers.
The UK and its international partners continue to strengthen unprecedented sanctions to constrain Russia’s capacity to wage its illegal war, including the new enforcement coordination mechanism to bolster compliance and enforcement.
The UK government publishes the UK Sanctions List, which contains information about individuals, entities, and vessels designated under regulations made under the Sanctions and Anti-Money Laundering Act 2018 (the Sanctions Act).
This comprehensive list provides details on the specific sanctions measures applicable to these persons or ships and includes a statement of reasons for each designation in the case of UK designations. The UK Sanctions List can be accessed on the UK government’s official website, ensuring that businesses and financial institutions have a reliable source of information for their compliance processes.
Rudi Kesic, CEO of Verify 365, emphasizes the importance of leveraging technology in identifying sanctioned individuals and entities. “In today’s complex and fast-paced global environment, businesses need advanced technological solutions to efficiently and effectively screen against sanctions lists like the UK Sanctions List. By utilising cutting-edge software and global data analytics, companies can automate their sanctions screening processes, reduce the risk of human error, and ensure ongoing compliance with ever-changing regulatory requirements.”
By combining the UK Sanctions List with innovative technology solutions offered by companies like Verify 365, businesses can enhance their sanctions screening and compliance programs. This helps them to maintain legal standing, protect their reputation, and support global security efforts by preventing the facilitation of illicit activities.
The importance of Sanctions Screening and keeping up to date with AML Regulations
Sanctions screening and staying current with anti-money laundering (AML) regulations are essential components of an effective risk management strategy for businesses, particularly those in the financial sector. The primary goal of these measures is to prevent illicit activities, protect financial systems from abuse, and promote transparency and integrity in global commerce.
1. Compliance with legal requirements: Compliance with sanctions and AML regulations is a legal obligation for businesses operating in most jurisdictions. Failing to adhere to these regulations can result in severe penalties, including fines, legal actions, and reputational damage. Staying up to date with AML regulations helps businesses avoid such consequences and maintain their legal standing.
2. Protection against financial crime: Sanctions screening and AML measures help businesses identify, assess, and mitigate the risk of becoming involved in financial crimes, such as money laundering, terrorist financing, and other illicit activities. By implementing rigorous screening processes, businesses can detect and prevent transactions involving sanctioned entities or individuals and reduce the risk of inadvertently facilitating criminal activities.
3. Safeguarding reputation: Businesses that fail to implement proper sanctions screening and AML procedures risk damaging their reputation and losing the trust of their customers, partners, and regulators. Robust compliance programs demonstrate a company’s commitment to ethical practices and help build credibility in the market.
4. Maintaining access to markets: Compliance with sanctions and AML regulations is crucial for businesses to maintain access to global markets. Non-compliance can lead to restrictions or bans from conducting business in certain jurisdictions, limiting growth opportunities and negatively impacting the bottom line.
5. Supporting global security: Sanctions and AML measures play a critical role in promoting global security and stability by limiting the financial resources available to rogue states, terrorist organizations, and other criminal entities. By adhering to these regulations, businesses contribute to the international efforts to combat crime, terrorism, and other threats to global security.
6. Enhancing operational efficiency: An effective AML and sanctions screening program enables businesses to streamline their risk management processes, optimize internal controls, and minimize the likelihood of compliance breaches. This, in turn, can lead to improved operational efficiency and cost savings.
To ensure the effectiveness of their sanctions screening and AML measures, businesses should invest in ongoing staff training, leverage advanced technology solutions, and stay informed about changes in regulatory requirements. By doing so, they can better protect themselves and their stakeholders from the risks associated with financial crime and maintain their reputation as responsible and ethical market participants.