- The Federal Government recently imposed a substantial number of broad sanctions measures in response to the Russian threat to the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine.
- Australian lawyers and their clients may be at risk of breaching the sanctions, particularly if dealing with individuals or companies from Russia, Belarus and Ukraine.
- Lawyers should review their client files in consideration of the sanctions and contact the ASO for assistance if necessary.
Australia’s expanded sanctions regime has recently featured in news headlines following Russia’s further invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.
Sanctioned: since 2014
Since 2014, Australia has imposed autonomous sanctions as a matter of foreign policy pursuant to the Autonomous Sanctions Act 2011 (Cth) (the ‘Act’) and Autonomous Sanctions Regulations 2011 (Cth) (the ‘Regulations’) in response to the Russian threat to the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine following Russia’s annexation of Crimea.
Commencing in 2014, the Federal government:
- imposed targeted financial sanctions and travel bans on certain Russian and Ukrainian individuals that the Minister was satisfied were ‘responsible for, or complicit in, the threat to the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine’ (Autonomous Sanctions (Designated Persons and Entities and Declared Persons – Russia and Ukraine) List 2014 (Cth)); and
- prohibited exports and supply to Russia, Crimea and Sevastopol of certain goods or services, particularly relating to arms and infrastructure for the transport, telecommunications or energy sectors or the exploitation of oil, gas or mineral reserves (Autonomous Sanctions (Russia, Crimea and Sevastopol) Specification 2015 (Cth)).
Since February 2022, the Federal Government substantially broadened its sanctions against Russia/Belarus, in particular, by passing legislation that broadened the scope of individuals and entities on which Australia can impose targeted financial sanctions (Autonomous Sanctions Amendment (Russia) Regulations 2022 (Cth)). The sanctions measures now include:
- restrictions on the export or supply of certain goods including arms, aluminium, certain luxury goods and items suited for use in oil exploration or production;
- restrictions on the import, purchase or transport of certain goods including arms, energy products (such as gas, coal or oil) and goods originating from specified areas of eastern Ukraine;
- restrictions on certain commercial activities including dealing with financial instruments or the provision of credit to certain designated Russian or Ukrainian companies and financial institutions;
- restrictions on the provision of certain services, which could extend to the provision of legal advice;
- restrictions on providing assets to or dealing with the assets of designated persons or entities; and
- travel bans on designated persons.