Government announces new unit to clamp down on companies evading sanctions

The Parliament of Westminster

The Government has announced the creation of a new unit to crack down on companies dodging Russian sanctions.

Companies who are found to be dodging strict trade sanctions, including those imposed since the war in Ukraine, will face tougher penalties. Industry and Economic Security Minister Nusrat Ghani announced the creation of the Office of Trade Sanctions Implementation (OTSI), which will be responsible for the civil enforcement of trade sanctions, including those against Russia.

The unit will help businesses comply with sanctions and investigate potential breaches, issuing civil penalties and referring cases to HMRC for criminal enforcement where needed. Its remit will involve activity by companies who may be avoiding sanctions by sending products through other countries.

Timber Development UK has been calling for regulators to take action on the continued imports of conflict timber, including Birch Plywood, which has continued arriving despite Russia and Belarus being issued with import sanctions.

TDUK’s Head of Technical and Trade policy, Nick Boulton, said: “When Ukraine was illegally invaded by Russia, we advised all members to cease trade with Russia and Belarus – even before sanctions were put in place. This was acted on by our importer members, who are audited every year by an independent third party through our Responsible Purchasing Policy (RPP) system.

“The regulator must take on a zero-tolerance stance to timber from these sanctioned sources to maintain a fair market, which rewards good actors.

“We are proud of the work our members do to ensure that timber in the UK comes from sustainable, conflict free sources. Only strong action by the regulator will ensure this is not undermined.”

You can read the Government’s full announcement online.