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Russia Sanctions Recap: Additional Central Bank Sanctions

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Further to our recent blog which outlined Canada’s recent economic sanctions against Russia, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has announcedfurther new sanctions in light of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine — mirroring those taken by other members of the international community.

The new measures target additional individuals and institutions to prohibit Canadians from dealing with same, as well as impose a blanket ban on engaging in any transactions with the Russian Central Bank.

The February 22nd Measures

To recap, the February 22nd measures, implemented through the Special Economic Measures (Russia) Regulations, and the Special Economic Measures (Ukraine) Regulations under the Special Economic Measures Act (“SEMA”), provided as follows:

1.Imposed specific economic restrictions on members of the Russian State Duma (the lower house legislature) who voted in favour of recognizing the breakaway republics (likely including the freezing of Canadian assets and dealings bans);

2.Imposed a ‘dealings ban’ with respect to the Donetsk and Luhansk regions, which will prevent Canadians from engaging in certain financial transactions in those areas (mirroring similar restrictions which were imposed on Crimea after Russia annexed the territory in 2014);

3. Prohibited Canadians from engaging in “direct and indirect dealings” in Russian sovereign debt (i.e., purchasing Russian government bonds); and

4. Prohibited Canadians from dealing with two Russian state banks, likely the Corporation Bank for Development and Foreign Economic Affairs Vnesheconombank (VEB) (a military bank) and Promsvyazbank Public Joint Stock Company (PSB) (which would follow US sanctions on those institutions announced this week).

The February 24th Measures

On February 24th, additional measures were announced under SEMA and regulations, expanding on the February 22nd measures to:

1. Impose restrictions on 58 additional Russian individuals and entities, including banks, financial elites and their families (in addition to those already currently named);

2. Personally sanction members of the Russian Security Council, including the Defence Minister, the Finance Minister, and the Justice Minister (Trudeau later announced that this would be expanded to include Russian President, Vladimir Putin, and members of his staff and cabinet);

3. Impose restrictions on four Ukrainian individuals for their collaboration with Russia to destabilize Ukraine; and

4. Restrict exports to Russia by halting new export permit applications and cancelling valid export permits, with a limited number of exceptions for critical medical supply chains.

The February 28th Measures

This morning (February 28th), the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, Chrystia Freeland, announced that effective immediately “all Canadian financial institutions are prohibited from engaging in any transaction with the Russian Central Bank. In addition, Canada is imposing an asset freeze and a dealings prohibition on Russian sovereign wealth funds”. The announcement noted that “the sanctioning of the Russian Central Bank is a significant and unprecedented step that marks the first time a central bank of a G20 country has been sanctioned in this way”.

This followed a joint statement from over the weekend with several other countries to implement further economic sanctions on Russia which also confirmed that Russian banks would be removed from the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT), which would disconnect them from the ability to operate globally.

Takeaways

Businesses should take immediate steps to ensure compliance with Canadian sanctions — which are sure to continue as the war progresses. Penalties for non-compliance can be significant. Under SEMA, punishments can include imprisonment of up to five years, as well as fines

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