MPs open inquiry into success of UK Treasury sanctions on Russia

The Treasury committee on Thursday opened an investigation looking at the effectiveness of the UK’s economic sanctions on Russia, including whether the measures need to be widened to cover the buyers of Russian oil and gas.

The MPs will take evidence on the work of the Office of Financial Sanctions Implementation (OFSI), part of the Treasury, which implements and enforces the sanctions in the UK, including on implementation within the insurance and shipping sectors.

The committee will examine whether the sanctions regime should be broadened to include entities buying Russian oil and gas, as well as looking at whether assets frozen as part of the UK’s financial sanctions on Russia should be confiscated and whether there is legal precedent for such a move.

Vladimir Putin, the Russian president, has previously boasted about his country’s ability to withstand to western sanctions. The International Energy Agency said last May that Russian oil supply “continued to prove resilient”. Russian oil exports reached a post-invasion high last April of 8.3m barrels of oil a day amid increased exports to India and China.

Harriett Baldwin, chair of the Treasury committee, said that two years on after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Moscow was still able to plough money into its defence budget, which posed the question of whether western sanctions were having the desired effect.

She said: “We must not let up in our efforts to plug every possible gap which Putin and his cronies exploit to get around our sanctions. Our committee is aiming to identify any areas within the UK’s purview which we feel could be improved so that, as a country, we can be confident we’re doing our bit to deal a fatal blow to the Kremlin war chest.”

Wealthy businessmen have already been bringing legal challenges in London’s high court to try to overturn their designations on the UK sanctions list.

This week, lawyers for Eugene Shvidler, a business associate of the oligarch Roman Abramovich, failed in an attempt to persuade the court of appeal to overturn UK restrictions imposed on him in a key legal test of the UK sanctions regime.

The case was being closely watched by other oligarchs under sanctions because of their links with Russia. Shvidler has already signalled he will appeal to the UK’s supreme court.


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