NCA and OFSI have issued a “red alert” sharing information on some of the common techniques that Designated Persons under Russian sanctions and their UK enablers are suspected to be using to evade sanctions. They key methods are using associates and enablers to:
- transfer assets like shareholdings in holding companies to relatives or employees;
- selling or transferring assets at a loss before sanctions take effect; and
- divesting investments to ensure ownership is below 50% or relinquishing control.
The alert sets out various indictors the authorities are seeing and warns of the various offences that can be committed by those who seek to evade sanctions, and the extra-territorial application of SAMLA. It calls out how enabler can commit the offence of circumventing sanctions, for instance by seeking to obstruct due diligence by would be counterparties. Attempts to transfer, usually to jurisdictions where there are no sanctions, will inevitably involve money laundering, and the use of crypto-assets is becoming increasingly popular.
The authorities warn against willful blindness from advisers, and note the guidance and role of professional supervisory bodies.