Here to stay: what the EU's Russia sanctions mean for compliance professionals
On Monday, EU foreign ministers ratified the decision to extend EU sanctions on Russia until the end of January 2016. The sanctions consist of asset freezes on several companies in the banking, oil and gas, and defence sectors as well as travel bans for certain officials. Since they were first implemented, the sanctions, along with falling oil prices, have contributed to Russia’s economic travails, pushing the country into recession.
Prolonged sanctions also mean that companies doing business in Russia face a dilemma: either conform to the measures, but continue doing business where possible, conducting more substantive investigations as part of their due diligence; or de-risk completely by exiting the Russian market. Despite the compliance hurdles and rouble crisis the overall macroeconomic picture looks better than it did earlier this year and European countries, particularly the United Kingdom and Germany, still have close trade ties to Russia, with BP and Siemens signing significant contracts in the last month.
Western banks and large corporates face significant challenges in remaining compliant as the complexity of cross-border transactions and financial instruments leave them particularly at risk of breach. Compliance teams are being bombarded with AML, KYC and EDD requests, often for companies that lack the transparent reporting structures needed to cover all bases. This means that compliance checks on counter-parties have become more complex, time-consuming and expensive, while legacy systems often struggle to support essential steps, such as matching Cyrillic and Latin versions of third-party names.
Our Chief Executive and co-founder, David Buxton, appeared on CNBC Europe’s Closing Bell on Wednesday to discuss the extension of EU sanctions on Russia and the resulting challenges faced by companies with exposure to the Russian market.