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Russia and Belarus: Many procedures for violations of sanctions


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Status: 09/23/2022 12:47 p.m

Noisy SWR research German authorities are investigating more than 100 cases of alleged violations of EU sanctions against Russia and Belarus. The allegations mainly relate to the possible circumvention of import and export bans.

It is an explosive suspicion that the public prosecutor’s office in Hanover is currently investigating: According to the Lower Saxony Ministry of Justice, they are investigating a case of alleged “supply of electronic items via various companies to the Russian military.” To SWR-Research is about a company that may have supplied Bosch and ZF branded items to Russian troops. ask of SWR The public prosecutor’s office in Hanover does not want to answer the number of articles, the alleged “various companies” and the specific Russian military unit. It is said that no information is currently being given about the ongoing investigation. The company in question rejects the allegation against the SWR in writing: “We have not and will never supply any items to the Russian military.” The further investigations must now show whether the suspicion is confirmed.

After the European Union massively expanded the sanctions against Russia and Belarus, reports to German investigative authorities of suspected violations of the sanctions regulations increased. They are currently investigating in more than 100 procedures, such as a SWR survey at ministries of justice and public prosecutor’s offices. Accordingly, 30 investigations are currently being conducted in Hamburg, 27 in Brandenburg and 26 in Baden-Württemberg. In Saarland, on the other hand, there are only three procedures, in Schleswig-Holstein two and in Bremen one. Specifically, the feedback from the authorities resulted in 147 procedures – including so-called preliminary investigations. In fact, the number is likely to be even higher, as some ministries and authorities did not provide any specific information.

Accused mostly German citizens

It is about at least 59 companies, mostly based in Germany. Most of the accused are German citizens residing in Germany. 16 alleged perpetrators have Russian citizenship. Some of the accused have both German and Russian citizenship.

As confirmed by the Bavarian Ministry of Justice, the case of the Russian oligarch Alisher Usmanov is one of the 20 cases conducted in Bavaria – including preliminary investigations. On Wednesday, investigators searched several of his residential properties in Bavaria, also because of a possible violation of the Foreign Trade Act. This provides for penalties of up to five years. This can involve import and export bans on certain products from or to Russia or Belarus, but also services for people or companies that are on the EU sanctions list.

Violation of import and export bans

According to the SWRsurvey, the investigations are mainly about suspected violations of import and export bans. Saarland authorities are reporting attempts to export dyes/color powders to Russia. In several cases in Baden-Württemberg, textile retailers have been accused of selling high-priced clothing to customers, even though the sales staff knew that the goods were to be exported to sanctioned areas. The Koblenz public prosecutor responsible for Rhineland-Palatinate is dealing with a case in which an attempt was made to deliver fuel filters to Belarus. Investigators in Schleswig-Holstein are investigating the suspicion that a company could have provided staff for the construction of the bridge from the Russian mainland to the annexed island of Crimea.

Compared to the SWR some ministries and authorities emphasize that in many cases the allegations are “of minor importance”. The public prosecutor’s office in Cologne announced that in many cases proceedings would be discontinued due to insignificance. If suspected perpetrators did not act intentionally, cases of suspected administrative offenses would be handed over to the criminal and fine office of the responsible main customs office. The Lower Saxony Ministry of Justice reports a case of “importing cooking spoons from Russia” that the public prosecutor’s office in Stade is not pursuing.

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