UK Creates ‘Office of Trade Sanctions Implementation’ to Reinforce Russian Sanctions

December 11, 2023

On 11 December 2023, the UK’s Industry and Economic Security Minister, Nusrat Ghani, announced the establishment of a new unit, Office of Trade Sanctions Implementation (OTSI), targeted to clamp down on companies evading Russian Sanctions. The creation of this unit implies that the companies involved in evading rigorous trade sanctions, including those imposed since the Ukraine war,  will now encounter more severe penalties.

The launch of OTSI is anticipated in early 2024, subject to the implementation of new legal mandates, and it will enhance the government’s existing endeavors to ensure compliance with UK trade sanctions, as per Gov.UK press release.

The announcement of the new unit comes at a time when the UK is set to reveal additional sanctions targeting recently identified items on Ukraine’s battlefield including electronics and machine parts along with items generating revenue to facilitate the Russian military.

“Today’s announcement will further strengthen the UK’s sanctions system and allow us to maximise the impact that trade sanctions have on those who continue to flout the global rules.” Anne-Marie Trevelyan, Sanctions Minister remarked, “Without international sanctions, we estimate Russia would have over $400 billion more to fund the war, enough to fund the invasion for a further four years. We are hitting Russia where it hurts and starving Putin of the resources he needs to fund his illegal war on Ukraine.”

How OTSI will Facilitate Sanctions Compliance?

The OTSI is tasked with ensuring the civil enforcement of trade sanctions, including those targeting Russia. The unit will assist businesses in complying with sanctions, imposing civil penalties, and if required, referring cases to HMRC for criminal enforcement. Its scope will involve overseeing actions by companies attempting to evade sanctions by channeling products through various nations.

“Our package of sanctions, the most severe ever imposed on a major economy, is working – goods imports from Russia to the UK have already plummeted by 94%.” Nusrat Ghani stated, “But 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.”

The UK, in collaboration with international partners, has implemented the most robust set of sanctions ever imposed on a major economy, including an unparalleled £20 billion of UK-Russia good trade now subjected to sanctions. The evidence suggests that sanctions are having an impact, resulting in UK-Russia trade reaching historically low levels.

Western nations are taking active steps to develop strategies aimed at tackling the evasion of Russian Sanctions, Recently, the European Union members have expressed concerns about loopholes in the EU’s sanctions against Russia and adopted a resolution to close the EU market for Russian fossil fuels. Moreover, the EU members have emphasized enhancing centralized oversight of sanctions enforcement and establishing a system to monitor and prevent evasion.