Germany – raids on luxury car exporters to Russia

It is being reported (in German and English) that the Customs Investigation Office in Essen and the Public Prosecutor’s Office in Bochum conducted raids on two premises including on a luxury car dealership on suspicion of exporting more than €5 million in cars to Russia.

The allegations include that fictitious destinations for the exports were put forward when the real destination was Russia.

Evidence and cars were seized as part of the raids.

Germany – individual convicted for exporting luxury cars to Russia in breach of EU sanctions

On 24 April the Cologne District Court convicted a unnamed 52-year old individual of breaching the EU’s Russian sanctions by exporting 38 luxury cars and two motorcycles to Russia.

The cars were said to have totaled €4.7m in value, and were largely shipped to Russia via Belarus (where the goods are not prohibited exports). The prosecution was able to show through invoice addresses, the origins of payments and the ultimate Russian registrations of the vehicles that the individual was knowingly exporting to Russia.

The man was given a suspended two-year prison sentence, ordered to pay €20,000 and ordered to do 200 hours of community work.

It is unclear if the proceeds of the sales will be the subject of confiscation proceedings.

In terms of the sentence the court accepted as mitigating factors: i) that a previously legitimate business was made unlawful almost overnight; and ii) that the goods in question were not military or dual use. Given that these factors would be present in very many cases it is unclear why they were considered as mitigating.

 

Germany – trial starts of three individuals accused of drone exports to Russia

Further to our earlier post about the laying of charges against three individuals accused of exporting drones and drone parts to Russia in breach of the EU’s sanctions, the criminal trial of these individuals started on Friday.

The three are, between them, accused of 54 counts of breaching sanctions.

The conduct is alleged to have included exports to front companies in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Hong Kong, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates, and of deceiving component suppliers based in the US by saying that Germany was to be the final destination of the products.

Germany – investigation by Berlin prosecutor into “Russian House”

It is being reported today that the Berlin public prosecutor’s office is investigating whether the operations of the “Russian House” in Berlin are in breach of the EU’s Russian sanctions.

The “Russian House” is a scientific and cultural centre that was founded in the 1980s. It is being reported that the Zentralstelle für Sanktionsdurchsetzung (Central Office for Sanctions Enforcement) has concluded that is a “dependent branch” of the government body Rossotrudnichestvo, which has been designated in the EU since July 2022.

Germany – charges laid in relation to exports to China

The German Federal Prosecutor’s office issued a press release earlier today in relation to the charging of three individuals for alleged export control violations.

The three charged are German nationals named as Herwig F., Ina F. and Thomas R.

It is alleged that the three were working for or on behalf of a Chinese intelligence agency and that they worked to procure information in relation to technology with military application, including ship engines.

The defendants are also charged with the unlicensed export of a laser to china in breach of the EU’s Dual-Use Regulation.

 

European Sanctions Enforcement – milestone of over 2000 announced and active investigations reached

With the recent news that Finland has increased the number of its ongoing investigations, Europe (meaning the EU, the UK, Switzerland, etc) has reached the milestone of over 2,000 ongoing and public sanctions enforcement investigations being undertaken by regulators and prosecutors.

No doubt there are other investigations which are ongoing in the countries shown on the graph, and no doubt there are investigations ongoing in countries not shown and which remain confidential.

How many of these will be dropped due to inconclusive evidence or exculpatory evidence, and how many will lead to a conviction or fine or acquittal is impossible to say.

It is, without question, an unprecedented level of enforcement.

 

Germany – vessel which had cargo of Russian timber is released

In an earlier post we reported that the German authorities had seized a vessel in the Port of Rostock which was carrying a cargo of sanctioned birch timber from Russia. The planned destination had been the United States where the timber is not sanctioned but the ship had diverted to Rostock seemingly after technical troubles.

The vessel in question, Atlantic Navigator II, has now been allowed to leave Rostock.

The Customs authorities have not stated whether the timber remained on board.

The Rostock Public Prosecutor’s Office is also reported to have confirmed that the matter remains the subject of an ongoing investigation.

Germany – Ministry of Economic Affairs calls for investigation into alleged sanctions breaches relating to Mariupol reconstruction

The German Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Change is being quoted in the press as having called for an investigation by the relevant authorities into allegations that two German companies may be breaching the EU’s sanctions by providing material for the rebuilding of the occupied city of Mariupol.

The companies, Knauf and WKB Systems GmbH have both issued statements saying they comply with relevant sanctions.

The call for an investigation follows reports of the supply of construction material first published in Monitor.

Germany – five charged in relation to the export of Siemens’ gas turbines to Crimea

It is being reported that the Hamburg Public Prosecutor’s Office (which does not publish press releases online) has charged five individuals on suspicion of exporting gas turbines to Crimea in breach of EU sanctions.

The gas turbines were manufactured by Siemens.

Of the five individuals, who have been under investigation since at least 2021 (see our earlier post), one remains an employee of Siemens. Four are German nationals and one is Swiss.

It is alleged that they were aware that the gas turbines being exported to Russia (then not prohibited) were destined for export and installation in Crimea in breach of the EU’s Crimea-specific sanctions.

Germany – seizure of cargo of Russian timber

It is being reported that the German customs authorities have seized a cargo of Russian timber bound for the United States valued at over $40 million.

The seizure arose because the vessel carrying the timber to the United States was required to call into the port of Rostock due to technical difficulties.

The customs authorities have taken the view that this amounts to an import into the EU of sanctioned timber products from Russia. This determination is currently the subject of an appeal.

The Canadian company, Atlantic Ro-Ro Carriers owns the vessel involved.

It is also being reported that 10% of the cargo is products of a company owned or controlled by a person designated under the EU’s sanctions.

© 2009- Duane Morris LLP. Duane Morris is a registered service mark of Duane Morris LLP.

The opinions expressed on this blog are those of the author and are not to be construed as legal advice.

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