US urges companies to comply with Russia-related sanctions

The seal of the Department of Commerce is seen, before Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross holds a news conference at the Department of Commerce in Washington
The seal of the Department of Commerce is seen, before Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross holds a news conference to make an announcement, after a background conference call with Commerce, Justice Department and Treasury Department officials at the Department of Commerce in Washington, U.S., March 7, 2017. REUTERS/Eric Thayer

WASHINGTON, March 2 (Reuters) - The U.S. government on Thursday called on companies to ensure they comply with Russia-related sanctions imposed after Moscow's invasion of Ukraine, warning that a failure to do so could lead to potential prosecution or enforcement actions.

Businesses should be aware of tactics being used to skirt restrictions and sanctions on Russia, including the use of shell companies, aliases, and obscured shipping information, among other warning signs, the U.S. departments of Justice, Commerce and Treasury said in a joint notice.

The guidance mentioned countries like China, Armenia, Turkey and Uzbekistan as those used as "transshipment points" to "illegally redirect restricted items to Russia or Belarus."

"Businesses of all stripes should act responsibly by implementing rigorous compliance controls," the joint notice added.

The United States, Europe and other partners have imposed a host of sanctions on a range of individuals and entities after Russian troops invaded Ukraine one year ago, seeking to inflict an economic toll on Moscow. Sanctions freeze any U.S. assets and prevent business being conducted with sanctioned parties.

The departments said "malign actors continue to try to evade Russia‐related sanctions and export controls," including through use of third party intermediaries.

The U.S. Commerce Department also recently imposed export curbs on nearly 90 Russian and third-country companies, including some in China, for engaging in sanctions evasion in support of Russia's defense sector and prohibiting them from buying items like semiconductors. The U.S. was also working to prevent components found in Iranian drones from making their way to the Ukrainian battlefield.

Reporting by Kanishka Singh and Susan Heavey; Editing by Doina Chiacu, Tim Ahmann and Deepa Babington

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Kanishka Singh is a breaking news reporter for Reuters in Washington DC, who primarily covers US politics and national affairs in his current role. His past breaking news coverage has spanned across a range of topics like the Black Lives Matter movement; the US elections; the 2021 Capitol riots and their follow up probes; the Brexit deal; US-China trade tensions; the NATO withdrawal from Afghanistan; the COVID-19 pandemic; and a 2019 Supreme Court verdict on a religious dispute site in his native India.