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Manufacturing firms ordered to ‘raise red flag’ in Russia sanctions probe

  • Expert warns against celebrating surge in sales to Eurasia
  • British businesses urged to investigate reasons for sales increase
  • Calls for proactive monitoring and suspicion reporting in manufacturing

It is stated at a parliamentary hearing that British businesses that are jubilant over a surge in sales to Eurasia countries down the pub ought to be investigating the cause of that increase. 

A sanctions expert advised members of parliament that British manufacturers exporting goods to nations amicable to Russia ought to “raise a red flag” if their sales increase dramatically. 

In testimony before an inquiry into the efficacy of sanctions against Russia, Tom Keatinge, director of the Centre for Finance and Security at the Royal United Services Institute, stated that British businesses witnessing such increases should not “go to the pub” to celebrate. 

Linked luxury vehicles spotted in Moscow showrooms this year to an increase in sales of British-made automobiles to Russia’s neighbors, most notably Azerbaijan. 

The United Kingdom exported £273 million worth of vehicles to Azerbaijan in 2018, an increase of 1,860% compared to the five years before Russia invaded Ukraine, according to an analysis. 

Distinguishing data underscored an unparalleled surge in automobile exports from Azerbaijan to Russia

The lobbying organization for the British automobile industry, the SMMT, has maintained that British automakers are completely compliant with the sanctions regime and do not export vehicles to Russia. 

Mr. Keatinge testified before the Treasury select committee’s inquiry that rather than placing the onus on banks to raise concerns about the activities of their corporate clients, manufacturing exporters should be more proactive in monitoring their sales. 

He elaborated that this was particularly widespread in the United States, where an executive order was issued in December to that effect.

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Regarding the obligations of manufacturers, Mr. Keatinge stated, “You should have assimilated the notion by now that a surge in sales to Kazakhstan or Armenia does not warrant a celebratory trip to the pub; rather, it begs the question as to why your sales are increasing.” 

I believe this to be the crux of our current failure.

He advocated for a reassessment of the sanctions regime to ascertain that the penalties imposed on Russia were not merely detrimental to British business unnecessarily but rather utilized the private sector’s expertise more efficiently. 

That is precisely what a customs agency in a European member state informed us.” We are concentrating on the critical high-priority commodities because Russia requires them to supply its military. 

I do not believe that we ought to refuse to conduct business in the Eurasian economic region. While this approach may appear counterproductive, I do believe that manufacturers and exporters in the United Kingdom should be made aware that an increase in trade with those nations should prompt them to file a suspicious transaction report, raise a red flag, and request assistance regarding the unease they are experiencing regarding the sales expansion they are observing. This should be made abundantly clear in the banking industry.

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