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Treasury Committee welcomes measures to tighten Russia sanctions regime

30 March 2023

The Treasury Committee today publishes correspondence with Treasury ministers regarding the Russia sanctions regime.

The publication comes as Treasury minister Baroness Penn today makes a statement aimed at reinforcing ministerial oversight of decisions sanctioning specific individuals.

Media reports in January indicated that Yevgeniy Prigozhin, the sanctioned founder of the Wagner Group, obtained a specific licence from the Office of Financial Sanctions Implementation (OFSI) to allow him to pay legal fees.

It is reported that these fees were used to aid him in bringing an unsuccessful libel action in the UK against a journalist who reported on Mr Prigozhin’s activities.

In a 26 January letter, Committee Chair Harriett Baldwin MP called for sanctions decisions relating to Yevgeniy Prigozhin, Wagner and associated persons to be red flagged to Ministers.

Following a 23 February response from Treasury Minister Baroness Penn, the Chair wrote again on 13 March asking what Ministerial oversight there would be for OFSI decisions in these areas. The letter also asked for the findings of the Treasury’s internal review of the way in which OFSI handles licence applications to be shared with Parliament

Baroness Penn’s 30 March statement to Parliament addresses those questions. It sets out a strengthening of the decision-making framework for specific licence applications and clarifies when Ministers, not officials, should make sanctions decisions.

Chair's comment

Treasury Committee Chair Harriett Baldwin MP said:

“We thank the Treasury for taking on board our concerns in full. Effective sanctions on individuals associated with Putin are an essential part of opposing his brutal invasion, and require robust ministerial oversight.”

Further information

Image credit: UK Parliament/Tyler Allicock