LONDON, Dec 11 — The British government said today it was creating an enforcement unit to increase its power to crack down on companies evading Russian sanctions.

The Office of Trade Sanctions Implementation (OTSI) will be responsible for the civil enforcement of trade sanctions, investigating potential breaches, issuing penalties and referring cases for criminal enforcement.

It will also help businesses comply with sanctions, the government’s Department for Business and Trade said, and its remit will include activity by any UK national or UK-registered company that may be avoiding sanctions by sending products through other countries.

The unit will launch early next year and work alongside the existing Office of Financial Sanctions Implementation.

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“We are leaving no stone unturned in our commitment to stopping (Russian President Vladimir) Putin’s war machine. That means clamping down on sanctions evaders and starving Russia of the technologies and revenues it needs to continue its illegal invasion,” Britain’s Industry and Economic Security Minister Nusrat Ghani said.

“Today’s announcement will help us do that, and send a clear message to those breaking the rules that there is nowhere to hide.”

Britain warned last week that Russia was trying to circumvent sanctions and announced 46 new measures against individuals and groups from other countries it said were involved in Russia’s military supply chains.

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This included businesses operating in China, Turkiye, Serbia, the United Arab Emirates and Uzbekistan.

Britain said £20 billion (RM117.1 billion) of UK-Russia goods trade has now been sanctioned, with imports from Russia down 94 per cent in the year to February 2023, compared to the previous year. — Reuters