Policies & Issues

US Ratchets Up Sanctions on Alrosa

Policies & IssuesApr 11, 2022

US Ratchets Up Sanctions on Alrosa

Alrosa is now on the Specially Designated Nationals list, meaning U.S. companies need to stop doing business with it now.

Russian diamond miner Alrosa has been put on the Specially Designated Nationals list, effectively blocking U.S. businesses and individuals from doing business with the company.
Washington—The U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control expanded sanctions on Alrosa late last week.

The Russian diamond miner was put on the Specially Designated Nationals list, which means its assets are blocked and U.S. businesses and individuals effectively cannot do business with the company.

The designation extends to all entities owned 50 percent or more, directly or indirectly, by Alrosa.

The designation was also given to United Shipbuilding Corporation, a Russian company that constructs the majority of the country’s warships.

“Through these designations, Treasury is cutting off additional sources of support and revenue for the Government of the Russian Federation to wage its unprovoked war against Ukraine,” said the U.S. Treasury Department.

In February, Alrosa and its CEO were sanctioned in light of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. An executive order March 11 then banned the import of non-industrial Russian diamonds into the United States.

The executive order still allowed for Russian diamonds cut and polished in a different country to be legally imported into the United States, but jewelers were advised to proceed with caution.

A bipartisan group in Congress wrote a letter to the Biden administration and U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen last week to request this loophole be examined.

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In light of these new sanctions, the Jewelers Vigilance Committee shared updated guidance in a member alert issued Friday.

If a U.S. business has not already stopped doing direct business with Alrosa, it must stop now, JVC said.

“If a U.S. business has goods or funds in-house that Alrosa may have an ongoing interest in (due to a memo/consignment agreement or other contract), those assets are now frozen and the business should seek counsel to determine how to proceed.”

Also, if a U.S. business has an ownership interest in or a relationship with a foreign company that is still doing business with Alrosa—or if that business is owned by a foreign company that has a relationship with Alrosa—it may be at risk of having its assets blocked and should consult an attorney.

The best course of action, said JVC, is for businesses to tell suppliers they will not purchase any goods originating from Alrosa.

“It is not yet clear how OFAC or U.S. Customs will interpret this new designation, but if a U.S. business continues to deal in these goods, even indirectly, they are at risk for encountering issues upon importation or the freezing of assets,” said JVC.

U.S. banks will also have to comply with these new sanctions and likely will ask jewelers for information ensuring compliance.

Sanction violations can lead to significant civil monetary fines, often in the millions of dollars, said JVC, and prison sentences.

Businesses are encouraged to report any potentially unlawful transactions to OFAC.

For more information or assistance, call the OFAC hotline at 1-800-540-6322.

Lenore Fedowis the associate editor, news at National Jeweler, covering the retail beat and the business side of jewelry.

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