New Russian sanctions-Businesses should step up PEPs/sanctions checks

The recent introduction of the Economic Crime Act to combat illegitimate money circulating in the UK property market, especially in the current climate, has only reinforced how vital it is for legal and financial organisations to be extra vigilant.

Professionals and firms need to ensure that due diligence is carried out in-line with government and regulator guidelines on their current and new clients and companies they have business relationships with, to eliminate any risk of money laundering.

In our previous blog on sanctions, we listed the different types of sanctions imposed by the UK government on Russia and how businesses can ensure compliance with sanctions. Since then, many more significant financial, trade and transport sanctions have been announced against Russian entities. 

New sanctions imposed on Russia by the UK

Since the Russian invasion of Ukraine began in February, the UK has sanctioned over 1,400 individuals and businesses – including over 100 oligarchs and family members.

At the time of writing this article, the latest range of measures taken by the UK government against Russia include:

  • Full asset freeze in coordination with the US on Russia’s biggest bank – Sberbank and Credit Bank of Moscow.
  • An absolute ban on all new UK outward investment into Russia.
  • Further restrictions including asset freeze and travel bans imposed on eight more oligarchs.
  • Last week, the government in coordination with the EU announced new sanctions against 178 separatists responsible for propping up Russian-backed illegal breakaway regions of Ukraine. In total the government sanctioned 206 individuals, including the 178 separatists, six oligarchs, close associates and employees, and an additional 22 individuals through the urgent procedure. 
  • Secondary legislation was laid in the parliament on 14 April that would ban the import of steel and iron products as well as the export of quantum technologies, advanced materials and luxury goods.
  • Planes owned or chartered by Russians are not allowed to enter the UK airspace and Russian vessels are prohibited from entering UK ports. Recently, the UK seized a Russian owned super-yacht in London. 
  • New legal powers have been put in place to prohibit maintenance on aircraft or ships belonging to specific sanctioned Russian oligarchs or their businesses.

A system is needed for close scrutiny of not just individuals but also assets, as the government believes that ownership of many of these vessels and private aircraft is buried in shell companies or shielded by pretend owners. 

It is common knowledge that certain oligarchs and other entities with ties to the Kremlin who have been sanctioned, or are at a risk of being sanctioned, have taken steps to ensure that their assets are not identified. This has been done by shielding their holdings behind offshore shell companies and human proxies, some of which are based in the UK.

Hence, professionals and organisations operating in the legal and financial sectors need to amp up their vetting process and take a robust approach when carrying out due diligence on potential clients.

How can Amiqus help?

In a fast-paced and increasingly complex sanctions landscape, here’s how Amiqus can support your organisation achieve its AML obligations with PEPs/Sanctions checks and monitoring:

  • With the click of a button, our Watchlist check can instantly screen and continuously monitor global data on politically exposed persons (PEPs) and sanctions lists, as well as adverse media data from 500 million web pages. 
  • The key thing to note is that our global watchlist monitoring and adverse media can be performed on not just individuals but also companies and assets, a very useful feature to comply with the sanctions that target assets and shell companies connected to Russian entities.
  • Amiqus is integrated with Companies House and OpenCorporates, covering 120 million entities in the UK and worldwide. Our Companies lookup feature uses this integration to help you identify true owners, directors and people with significant control (PSC) of organisations. 
  • Our PEPs/Sanctions check and monitoring is updated in real time to ensure that our clients do not violate the UK law by not including the latest additions in their searches. For example, the first sanctions package was applied to the database within 17 minutes of them being announced.

If you have any questions or need assistance to turn on the PEPs/Sanctions check in your Amiqus account, kindly get in touch with us on [email protected].