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EU criminalizes sanctions evasion

The new directive will allow member states to jail individuals and fine businesses

The European Parliament has adopted a directive to criminalize the violation and circumvention of EU sanctions, according to a document published on the legislative body’s website on Tuesday.

It stressed that providing financial services or legal advisory services in violation of the restrictions will also become a punishable offense.

“The new law sets consistent definitions for violations, including not freezing funds, not respecting travel bans or arms embargoes, transferring funds to persons subject to sanctions, or doing business with state-owned entities of countries under sanction,” the document reads.

According to the directive, courts across the bloc will be obliged to sentence individuals to prison terms of up to five years, and to issue “dissuasive” fines for companies violating or circumventing sanctions. The parliament pledged to introduce a common definition of violations, and the minimum penalties for them.

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EU imposes new sanctions on Russia

Brussels adopted its 13th package of sanctions against Russia last month ahead of the second anniversary of the beginning of the Ukraine conflict. The new sanctions restrict trade in dual-use goods, as well as technologies and electronic components that could be used by Russia’s military-industrial complex. The previously introduced penalties target a broad range of sectors and include trade embargoes, travel bans, and individual sanctions against Russian businessmen and public officials.

Western countries have frozen around $300 billion in assets belonging to the Russian central bank since the start of the Ukraine conflict. Brussels is currently working on ways to seize the interest earned from the assets held at the clearinghouse Euroclear, as a number of countries remain divided over expropriating the frozen assets to aid Ukraine.

Moscow has said it will respond in kind if the West goes through with threats to confiscate Russian assets that are blocked abroad. The Finance Ministry warned last month that Western states themselves still have holdings in Russia that could be jeopardized if the frozen funds are tapped.

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