U.S. Russia related Sanctions

President Trump authorizes the implementation of Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act

President Trump authorizes the Secretary of the Treasury, in coordination with the Secretary of State, to administer the Global Magnitsky Act. The Act aims to impose economic sanctions on persons responsible for massive human rights violations and significant acts of corruption.

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Italy accuses Russia of hacking it’s Foreign Ministry

On 10 February 2017, Italy accused Russia of hacking it’s foreign ministry in 2016. According to published reports, the hacking lasted for months before it was detected. The accusation has been flatly rejected by Russia. The accusation is now being investigated by the chief prosecutor in Rome.

U.S. President Obama extends National Emergency to Ukraine

On 13 January 2017, U.S. President Obama extended the national emergency with respect to the crisis in Ukraine until March 2018. The national emergency was imposed in March 2014 at the start of the Ukrainian territorial and constitutional crisis (e.g. the Russian annexation of the Crimea Region and Sevastopol). Because
President-Elect Trump has hinted that some of these sanctions could be uplifted, this has prompted the U.S. Congress to unveil the Countering Russian Hostilities Act of 2017. This bill, if adopted, might thwart the Trump Administration’ flexibility to relax relations with Russia.

U.S. Adds Five Russians to Magnitsky Sanctions, including close aide to President Putin

On 09 January 2017, the Obama Administration announced that it added five Russian nationals to the Magnitsky Sanctions list for human rights abuses. The move by the Obama Administration will further complicate how President-Elect Trump can ease tensions between Russia and the U.S. The most eye-catching designated individual is Aleksandr I. Bastrykin, an aide who directly reports to President Putin.

Departing U.S. Secretary of the Treasury Jacob J. Lew publishes exit memo

On 05-01-2017, the departing U.S. Secretary of the Treasury Jacob J. Lew published his exit memo – Eight Years of Progress at Treasury and a Look to the Future of American Financial Prosperity. His exit memo, similar to his speech last March at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace (regarding the evolution of U.S. sanctions) spells out a warning to limit unilateral sanctions and the use of U.S. secondary sanctions.

U.S. sanctions Russian parties linked to crisis in Crimea & Sevastopol

On 20-12-2016, the U.S. Department of the Treasury sanctioned 7 Russian individuals and 8 companies (including more than 20 subsidiaries of the Russian Agricultural Bank and OAO Novatek) under U.S. sanctions concerning the Crimean Region of the Ukraine. The OFAC measures, parallel to the EU measures, are a reaction to the U.S. Government’s determination of Russia’s involvement in the ongoing crisis in the Crimean peninsula.

U.S. President Obama orders Cyber-realted Sanctions on Russia following Hacking during Presidential Elections

On 29 December 2016, President Obama issued a new set of sanctions against Russia. These are cyber-related sanctions as a result of U.S. determination that Russia was involved in the hacking of the most recent U.S. Presidential elections. Designations include 9 entities and individuals including the GRU and the FSB (Russian intelligence services). Other measures cover the shutting down of 2 Russian compounds in the U.S., and the expulsion of of 35 Russian diplomats – claimed by the U.S. to be intelligence operatives.

Attacking Human Rights Violations: UK Parliament set to vote on British-style Magnitsky Sanctions

UK Parliament is to vote on a Magnitsky “Amendment,” which has been inserted into the Criminal Finances bill. The Amendment aims to curb money-laundering and terror financing. Similar to the 2012 U.S. law, the Amendment is named after Sergei Magnitsky, a Russian lawyer, turned whistle-blower, who died in 2009 after uncovering a $230m theft from the state budget by tax officials. If the amendment is adopted into law, both the UK Government and private parties could request the High Court to freeze UK assets of parties, involved or facilitating human rights violations, from profiting from gross human rights abuses in any country.