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PRACTICE AREA

Sanctions

“They have very good knowledge of the area and they are at the forefront of the legal industry.”

UK Guide 2024

The reaction by Western governments to the war in Ukraine has placed sanctions at the forefront of the news agenda.

The UK Government updated The Russia (Sanctions) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019 at the start of the war, giving the Government power to “designate” individuals as being subject to asset freezing and immigration responses. The number of people and businesses whose lives are affected by financial sanctions has increased dramatically since that date. Corker Binning advises individuals and businesses on legal challenges to, compliance with, and enforcement of, this wide ranging and ever expanding legal regime.

We have particular expertise in representing individuals or businesses who are accused of breaching financial sanctions. These cases are at the direct intersection of sanctions and financial crime and thus our well-established specialism in financial crime uniquely positions us to effectively represent clients subject to these investigations (whether by the NCA, HMRC, or other enforcement agencies). We advise from the initial investigatory stage (including interviews under caution), to negotiating with the prosecutor to achieve a non-prosecution outcome, as well as defending charges in the criminal courts. Similarly, we are able to advise directors or senior employees who may be the subject of an internal investigation by a financial institution or company into suspected misconduct.

There are many law firms in the UK which provide compliance advice about the compliance risks arising from the sanctions regime. What makes Corker Binning stand out from these firms is that we have practical experience of advising businesses that learn that they may have breached a particular financial sanction. Whilst disclosing the breach voluntarily to OFSI may often be the wisest course of action, such disclosures need to be handled very carefully to reduce the risk of prosecution. At Corker Binning, we are familiar with the legal and practical issues that arise from this difficult decision. We have helped a number of businesses avoid prosecution.

We also have a market-leading practice in representing designated persons who are seeking to bring ministerial and judicial challenges against the imposition of sanctions. These applications require a highly technical analysis of whether the designation satisfies the criteria and purposes of the relevant sanctioning regime, often involving expert evidence.

For more detail about our experience in trade sanctions, please take a look at our page on export controls and trade controls.

SERVICES

  • Applications to the Foreign and Commonwealth Development Office and the courts for a designated person to be listed i.e. to be removed from the list of designated people
  • Advising and assisting with applications to the Office of Financial Sanctions Implementation for licences
  • Representing individuals and businesses who may be subject to enforcement action for breaches of sanctions law
  • Compliance advice to individuals and businesses seeking to comply with the sanctions regime
  • Representing Oleg Tinkov in his successful application to the FCDO to be de-listed i.e. for sanctions on him to be removed
  • Advising several other high-profile individuals on challenging their designation by the UK Government, including bring applications for de-listing to the FCDO and, thereafter, to the High Court
  • Acting for designated Nikita Mazepin in his delisting application to the FCDO, and his application to the High Court for interim relief from sanctions;
  • Representing clients at interviews under caution with the NCA on suspicion of criminal evasion of sanctions;
  • Representing the directors of an overseas company in a cross-border investigation into sanctions busting allegedly committed by the private office of a prominent Russian national;
  • Advising a number of UK and European companies in the financial services sector on whether (a) they are owned or controlled by designated persons, and/or (b) particular transactions would breach financial sanctions, and making associated representations to OFSI to obtain “comfort letters” to this effect, thereby enabling them to restore banking facilities that had been frozen, and conduct legitimate business;
  • Making applications to OFSI to secure the lawful release of funds in relation to frozen assets (including cultural property owned or controlled by designated persons) for urgent reasons;
  • Advising an individual and an unrelated business on securing the release of transportation assets impounded by the Department of Transport