UK announces new unit to combat companies evading Russian sanctions

The U.K. announced on Dec. 11 the creation of a new unit, the Office of Trade Sanctions Implementation (OTSI), to help combat companies that are circumventing sanctions, including those against Russia.

The West has implemented a record number of sanctions against Russia, including measures to prevent the export of military equipment or dual-use goods.  Russia has found ways to bypass the sanctions, especially by using companies located in third-party countries as an intermediary.

The OTSI will oversee the civic enforcement of sanctions, which entails sanctions compliance and subsequent investigation in the case of violations. As a civic enforcement body, the OTSI will issue penalties and refer cases for criminal prosecution when necessary.

"We are leaving no stone unturned in our commitment to stopping Putin’s war machine. That means clamping down on sanctions evaders and starving Russia of the technologies and revenues it needs to continue its illegal invasion," said Industry and Economic Security Minister Nusrat Ghani.

"Today’s announcement will help us do that, and send a clear message to those breaking the rules that there is nowhere to hide."

The OTSI is planned to launch in the beginning of 2024.

The EU is working on a 12th package of sanctions against Russia, which will seek to close existing loopholes and likely ban the trade of Russian diamonds.

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