Dean of Amsterdam: Lawyers should be careful about sanctions against Russia

Sancties tegen Rusland

Lawyers in Amsterdam will have to be very careful about requests from Russian sources in the coming period, in connection with the sanctions that have been imposed on Russia. Amsterdam Dean Evert Jan Henrix wrote this Monday in a letter to all 6,000 lawyers in his district.

According to Henrix, the (economic) sanctions imposed by the European Union, the United States and the United Kingdom on Russia after the invasion of Ukraine require “significantly increased vigilance on the part of all lawyers”. After all, sanctions affect not only the Russian Federation, but also “affiliated parties”, such as “a number of Russian persons, banks and organizations”.

“Lawyers should be aware that attempts will be made to circumvent these penalties in the coming days and they will be required to do so,” the dean wrote. “This can include transactions that involve a shift in interests, appointments that are changed or cancelled, and payments that are being transferred.”

Accurate identity checks

However you have to at least be careful, the blanket wants to say. Therefore lawyers and their offices (Zuidas) must be more vigilant than usual when accepting assignments or continuing existing assignments. Lawyers will have to conduct extensive identity checks in new cases, as usual, as provided by Wwft and the Legal Profession (Voda) regulations.

In current cases, changing circumstances – such as a change in sanctions legislation – can suddenly lead to more or stricter due diligence towards clients, for example in the validity of the data provided, the identity of clients or intermediaries and, Last but not leastwhether the requested service is acceptable at all.

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Circumvention is illegal

Henrichs cautions that Voda is clear about the lawyers’ involvement in illegal activities. If there is evidence that the attorney’s services help prepare for or protect against illegal activities, the service should be refused or immediately terminated. If this does not happen, the attorney risks at least serious disciplinary consequences.

“Sanction evasion is definitely an illegal activity,” Henrix said. “And because the presence of indications is sufficient to refuse or terminate an assignment, great restraint is required in accepting or continuing assignments.” The President also urgently calls on the legal profession to monitor the current situation regarding sanctions against Russia, and promptly report unusual transactions to the Financial Unit of the Netherlands (FIU) in cases subject to Wwft.

By the way, Baker McKenzie is the first international company to confirm from the United States how some major Russian customers are currently under more scrutiny. If sanctions against Russia require it, ties with those agents will be severed, Baker McKenzie told Bloomberg Law.

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