On 19 June 2014, Australia imposed financial sanctions and travel bans against 50 persons and 11 entities that have been instrumental in the Russian threat to the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine. The list of the designated persons is contained in The Autonomous Sanctions (Designated Persons and Entities and Declared Persons – Ukraine) List 2014, and gives effect to earlier announcements by the Australian Government to impose such targeted sanctions and bans.

The Consolidated list of the designated individuals and entities is published on the website of the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs.

Australia joins several other jurisdictions besides the US and EU, including Canada and Switzerland, that have imposed targeted Ukraine-related sanctions. Most of the designated persons on the Australian list are subject to the US and/or EU Ukraine-related sanctions. However, notably, Igor Girkin, the leader of the so-called Donetsk People’s Republic, appears on the Australian list, but not on either the US or EU lists.

It is an offence to use or deal with any assets that are owned or controlled by a designated person or entity, and/or make any assets available directly or indirectly to, or for the benefit of, a designated person or entity, without a sanctions permit. An ‘asset’ is defined broadly to include an asset or property of any kind, whether tangible or intangible, movable or immovable.

Australian sanctions laws apply broadly, including to activities in Australia, by Australian citizens and Australian-registered bodies corporate overseas; and on board Australian-flagged vessels and aircraft.

Contravening a sanctions measure or a condition of a sanctions permit is a criminal offence, punishable for individuals by up to 10 years in prison, and/or a fine the greater of AUS $425,000 or three times the value of the transaction. For bodies corporate, it is a strict liability offence punishable by a fine the greater of AUS $1.7 million or three times the value of the transaction.

Businesses and individuals that could be affected by the Australian sanctions must observe strict compliance procedures when conducting transactions that could involve interests directly or indirectly connected to the designated individuals and/or entities. It is important to ensure adequate identification of all individuals and entities involved in the transactions, and to not limit screening to Russian and Ukrainian citizens, as some of the designated individuals may have passports of the countries other than Russia and/or Ukraine.