As already reported in our Legal Update of 22 March 2022, due to Russia’s large-scale military aggression against Ukraine (Russian-Ukrainian war), the EU has continuously expanded and tightened its economic sanctions against Russia, which were first imposed on 1 August 2014, as of 23 February 2022 (most recently on 15 March 2022 with the „fourth sanctions package“). The already existing sanctions against Belarus were considerably expanded in analogy to the sanctions regime against Russia.

The current sanctions include, among others, person/organisation-related, goods-related and capital market-related sanctions. Here you will find our brief and current overview of the most important sanctions, which is updated on an ongoing basis:

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In connection with the personal/organisational sanctions, the question is often raised as to whether, in the context of contracts concluded before 23 February 2022, payments or deliveries of sanctioned persons or organisations from Russia / Belarus can be accepted or made to them. Please note, that a legal person, entity or body held or controlled by a listed person is also covered by the sanctions.

The following link provides a list of persons and entities subject to sanctions: https://www.opensanctions.org/datasets/eu_fsf/

In this context, the following sanctions in particular should be considered in more detail:

  • Freezing order: All funds and economic resources belonging to listed persons shall be frozen. Economic resources means assets of every kind, whether tangible or intangible, movable or immovable, which are not funds but may be used to obtain funds, goods or services (see Article 2 (1) of Regulation (EC) No 269/2014).
  • Prohibition of making funds available: No funds or economic resources may be made available (directly or indirectly) to or for the benefit of sanctioned persons (see Article 2 (2) of Regulation (EC) No 269/2014). For claims in connection with contracts and transactions whose performance or implementation is affected by the sanctions, this means a prohibition of performance (see Article 11 of Regulation (EC) 269/2014).

However, there are some exceptions to the relevant prohibition. This includes contracts where a payment by a natural or legal person, entity or body listed in Annex I is due under a contract or agreement that was concluded by, or under an obligation that arose for the natural or legal person, entity or body concerned, before the date on which that natural or legal person, entity or body was included in Annex I (cf. Article 6 of Regulation (EU) 269/2014).

ATTENTION: The exercise of exemptions cannot be assessed autonomously, but is subject to authorisation by the competent authority of the respective Member State.

In the area of international financial sanctions, especially in connection with the freezing or release of funds of sanctioned persons, the Österreichische Nationalbank (OeNB) exercises the function of the competent authority. The legal basis in Austria is the Sanctions Act 2010 (Sanktionsgesetz – SanktG 2010) and Foreign Exchange Act 2004 (Devisengesetz 2004).

Do you have questions about current EU sanctions and/or need assistance in submitting an application for approval to the OeNB? We will be happy to advise you!