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HomeNew EU sanctions exclude Belarusian banks from SWIFT

New EU sanctions exclude Belarusian banks from SWIFT

New EU sanctions exclude Belarusian banks from SWIFT and add additional restrictions against Russia

The European Union (“EU”) has adopted additional sanctions against Belarus in response to Belarus’ involvement in the Russian invasion of Ukraine. In addition to the new restrictions on Belarus, additional individuals are added to the asset freeze list and new export restrictions are imposed against Russia. With the sanctions against Russia tightening, we understand that Russia is imposing significant countermeasures, which may impact Danish companies operating directly or indirectly in Russia.

Latest package of EU sanctions targets Belarus and Russia

The latest round of EU sanctions entered into force on 9 March 2022 and imposes additional financial restrictions on Belarus, in reaction to Belarus’ involvement in Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The sanctions effectively exclude three key Belarusian banks from the SWIFT system, the world’s dominant financial messaging system. The ban will take effect as of 20 March 2022.

The new sanctions also prohibit Euro denominated banknotes from being sold, supplied, transferred or exported to Belarus and introduces a number of other financial sanctions targeted at Belarus – closely aligned with the sanctions previously imposed on Russia.[1]

The new sanctions imposed on Russia include restrictions on the export of maritime navigation and radio communication technology to Russia, and an update to the list of persons and entities subject to asset freezes and travel restrictions.

The new EU sanctions are set out in three different regulations accessible herehere and here.

Exclusion of Belarusian banks from SWIFT

Regulation 2022/398[2] prohibits EU-entities from providing specialised financial messaging services, which are used to exchange financial data, to three Belarusian banks. This will include the SWIFT system. The three banks are:

  • Belagroprombank
  • Bank Dabrabyt
  • Development Bank of the Republic of Belarus

The prohibition also extends to any legal person, entity or body established in Belarus directly or indirectly owned by more than 50 % by one of the abovementioned banks. The prohibition will be effective as of 20 March 2022.

Sanctions related to financial restrictions against Belarus

Regulation 2022/398 also expands the existing financial restrictions on circulation of Euro denominated banknotes in Belarus and other measures.

The new sanctions prohibit Euro denominated banknotes from being sold, supplied, transferred or exported to any natural or legal person, entity or body in Belarus. The prohibition enters into force on 12 April 2022.

The sanctions further prohibit the listing and provision of services in relation to shares of Belarusian state-owned entities on EU trading venues as of 12 April 2022. In addition, it introduces new measures which significantly limit the financial inflows from Belarus to the EU by prohibiting the acceptance of deposits exceeding certain values from Belarusian nationals or residents as of 10 March 2022. Furthermore the holding of accounts of Belarusian clients by the EU central securities depositories as well as the selling of transferable securities to any Belarusian national or natural person residing in Belarus or any legal person, entity or body established in Belarus will be prohibited as of 12 April 2022.

New export restrictions related to Russia

Regulation 2022/394[3] introduces sanctions on the export of maritime navigation goods and technology. The sanctions prohibit selling, supplying, transferring or exporting maritime navigation goods and technology to any natural or legal person, entity or body in Russia, for use in Russia, or for the placing on board of a Russian-flagged vessel. The prohibition entered into force on 9 March 2022.

Additional individuals subject to asset freezes – Russia

Separately, Regulation 2022/396[4] imposed asset freezes on 160 additional individuals. The newly listed individuals include businesspeople involved in key Russian economic sectors, members of the Russian Federation Council as well as other individuals supporting or benefitting from the Russian government. The total list now covers more than 800 individuals and entities[5].

Crypto assets targeted by sanctions

Regulation 2022/394 and Regulation 2022/398 also clarifies the definition of “transferable securities”, so as to clearly include crypto-assets in regards to restrictions imposed on Belarus and Russia.

Sanctions by non-EU countries

Other (non-EU) countries have also imposed new and additional sanctions on Russia. On 8 March 2022, the US government[6] banned imports of Russian oil, liquefied natural gas, and coal and the UK government has on 10 March 2022 announced sanctions against seven so-called oligarchs including Roman Abramovich (owner of i.a. Chelsea football club) and Oleg Deripaska.

Russian countermeasures

With the sanctions against Russia tightening, we understand that Russia is imposing countermeasures against “non-friendly states”, including notably all EU member states. Additional countermeasures may be on the way, including the possible nationalization of assets of foreign companies in Russia.

Impact on Danish companies

The scope of applicable sanctions targeting Belarus and Russia is very extensive, and Danish companies should ensure that their sanctions compliance programs, policies, screening processes and payment processes are updated to ensure that the newly enacted sanctions are addressed, in particular in regards to the new banks targeted by the SWIFT ban.

We recommend to closely monitor the situation in order to ensure compliance with potential new restrictions which may be imposed at short notice.

Gorrissen Federspiel closely follows the developments of sanctions against Russia and we can assist with the interpretation of and compliance with the applicable sanctions, as well as implementation of measures to ensure that sanctions are observed. If you have any questions, please contact a member of our CSR and Compliance team.

For more information on the previous EU sanctions packages, please see Gorrissen Federspiel’s newsletter of 2 March 2022, Gorrissen Federspiel’s newsletter of 28 February 2022 and Gorrissen Federspiel’s newsletter of 24 February 2022.


 

[2] Council Regulation (EU) 2022/398 of 9 March 2022 amending Regulation (EC) No 765/2006 concerning restrictive measures in view of the situation in Belarus and the involvement of Belarus in the Russian aggression against Ukraine

[3] Council Regulation (EU) 2022/394 of 9 March 2022 amending Regulation (EU) No 833/2014 concerning restrictive measures in view of Russia’s actions destabilising the situation in Ukraine

[4] Council Implementing Regulation (EU) 2022/396 of 9 March 2022 implementing Regulation (EU) No 269/2014 concerning restrictive measures in respect of actions undermining or threatening the territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence of Ukraine

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