Good Russians, Bad Russians
16 June 2022

Good Russians, bad Russians

Dominic Carman

How offshore firms are dealing with sanctions compliance, the rule of law and Russian clients

‘We’re being asked to decide: who are good Russians and who are bad Russians. That’s an impossible decision to take.’ The words of a prominent offshore lawyer, reflecting on the unprecedented sanctions that were swiftly imposed against the Putin regime when Russian tanks rolled across the Ukrainian border in February. As those sanctions continue to increase in scope and scale, so do the challenges facing law firms in multiple jurisdictions, including the big offshore players.

The anonymous offshore lawyer quoted above does not claim to speak for others, but the views expressed may resonate with some. They include the following: ‘The easy thing to do is just to say: no Russian work at all, full stop. That’s the easy default option. But that is not fair on those Russians who oppose the war and who need good legal representation. Equally, if we punish the entire Russian nation for the actions of a few, it will create serious global, economic and political ramifications for a long time to come, which are potentially much worse than if we take a slightly more nuanced and sophisticated view. It’s hugely hypocritical of the UK government to have a go at offshore jurisdictions, when it has been the main recipient of Russian money over several decades.’

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