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UK Introduces Further Economic Sanctions Against Belarus Including Financial, Trade & Transport Sanctions

On 5 July 2022, the UK Government introduced a further round of financial, trade and transport sanctions against Belarus in response to its continuing support of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.  The new sanctions measures were implemented pursuant to The Republic of Belarus (Sanctions) (EU Exit) (Amendment) Regulations 2022 (“Amended Regulations”), which extends a range of sanctions measures previously introduced against Russia to Belarus.

For more information on how these developments could impact your organization, contact the author of this post, Alexandra Melia, in Steptoe’s Economic Sanctions team in London.

Designation Criteria and Procedure

The Amended Regulations have expanded the criteria for designation under the UK’s Belarusian sanctions regime to include those involved in:

  • conduct destabilizing Ukraine by providing logistical support to the Russian army or spreading disinformation about Russia’s invasion of Ukraine;
  • other actions undermining or threatening peace, security or stability in Europe; or
  • obtaining a benefit from/supporting the Government of Belarus through carrying on a relevant business activity including in sectors of economic and strategic significance.

The Amended Regulations also permit designation to be made more swiftly through use of the “urgent procedure,” which enables the UK government to temporarily designate individuals and entities already designated by the UK’s allies (for more information on the urgent procedure, see our previous blog post here).

Financial Sanctions

The Amended Regulations also have introduced a new tranche of financial sanctions, which expand the scope of existing restrictions on dealing with transferable securities, money-market instruments, loans and credit.

In particular, the prohibitions have been widened to encompass transferable securities, money-market instruments, loans and credit issued by/granted to:

  • a “relevant person” on or after 5 July 2022. A relevant person is defined as: (1) Belarus; (2) a Belarusian authority; (3) a legal person not falling within (4), (5) or (6) below that is wholly-owned by Belarus or a Belarusian authority; (4) a credit or financial institution that is majority owned by Belarus or a Belarusian authority; (5) a legal person that is incorporated or constituted under the law of a non-UK country and majority-owned by a person within (4); or (6) a person acting on behalf of, or at the direction of, a person within (4) or (5); or
  • a person “connected with Belarus” on or after 5 July 2022. For the purpose of these prohibitions, a person connected with Belarus is any individual (or association or combination of individuals) who is/are located, or ordinarily resident, in Belarus, or any legal person that is incorporated or constituted under the law of, or domiciled in, Belarus.  The newly imposed restrictions on loans and credit only apply when the loan/credit has a maturity exceeding 30 days.

HM Treasury’s Office of Financial Sanctions Implementation (“OFSI”) has issued General Licence INT/2022/1976332, which allows for a seven day wind down period in respect of loans granted to – and dealings with transferable securities and money market instruments issued by – a person connected with Belarus.

The Amended Regulations also introduce new restrictions on the provision of financial services for the purpose of foreign exchange reserve and asset management to:

  • the National Bank of Belarus (“NBB”);
  • the Ministry of Finance of Belarus (“MOF”);
  • a person more than 50% owned or controlled, directly or indirectly, by the NBB or the MOF; or
  • a person acting on behalf, of or at the direction of, NBB or MOF.

In parallel, OFSI has issued General Licence INT/2022/1976232, which allows until 4 August 2022 for the wind down of any derivatives, repurchase, and reverse repurchase transactions entered into prior to 5 July 2022 involving the targets of this new restriction.

Persons placing reliance on either of the General Licences are required to keep accurate, complete and readable records of any activity purporting to have been permitted under the pertinent General Licence for a minimum of 6 years.

Trade Sanctions

The Amended Regulations have added a range of new trade sanctions prohibitions that:

  • Implement bans on the export, supply and delivery, making available and transfer of dual-use items irrespective of whether there is a military end-user.
  • Prohibit the export, supply and delivery, making available and transfer of a range of items (and, in certain cases, related services), including with respect to:
    • critical industry goods and technology;
    • quantum computing and advanced materials-related goods and technology;
    • oil refining goods and technology; and
    • certain luxury goods.
  • Add new products to existing trade sanctions prohibitions on petroleum products.
  • Prohibit the import of iron and steel products that are consigned from, or originate in, Belarus.
  • Prohibit the provision of technical assistance, financial services, funds and brokering services relating to the import of potash, iron and steel products.
  • Extend the prohibition on the provision of technical assistance relating to aircraft to, or for the benefit of a designated person in Belarus, to ships.
  • Prohibit the provision of technical assistance, armed personnel, financial services or funds, or brokering services when such provision enables or facilitates the conduct of military activities by the Belarusian military or other military end-users connected with Belarus.

Transport Sanctions

Finally, the Amended Regulations introduce a range of measures targeting aircraft and ships with certain affiliations to Belarus.

Aircraft Measures

  • Prohibit aircraft that are registered in Belarus or owned, chartered, or operated by a designated person or person connected with Belarus from overflying or landing in the United Kingdom.
  • Give the Secretary of State for Transport power to direct an airport operator to detain a Belarusian aircraft.
  • Require the Civil Aviation Authority to refuse registration applications – or terminate the existing registrations – of aircraft owned, operated or chartered by demise by a designated person.

Shipping Measures

  • Prohibit ships registered in or flying the flag of Belarus, owned, controlled, chartered or operated by a designated person or person connected with Belarus, (“Belarusian Ships”) and other specified ships from entering ports in the United Kingdom.
  • Confer powers on the Secretary of State for Transport to:
    • control the movement of Belarusian Ships or specified ships by requiring them to leave or enter specified ports, proceed to a specified place or remain where they are; and
    • detain Belarusian Ships or specified ships at ports or anchorages.
  • Prohibit the registration of ships on the UK Ship Register that are specified ships or owned, controlled, chartered or operated by a designated person or persons connected with Belarus.

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