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New Sanctions Against Belarus and Changes to Monthly Sanctions Reporting Requirement

New Sanctions Against Belarus and Changes to Monthly Sanctions Reporting Requirement
August 13, 2021

There have been two key recent developments in Canadian sanctions laws relevant to Canadian financial institutions and other Canadian businesses operating in Canada and abroad.

NEW SANCTIONS AGAINST BELARUS

On August 9, 2021, Canada imposed sanctions targeting securities issued by Belarus and its state-controlled banks and other companies. This is the second time that the Government of Canada has specifically targeted securities issued by foreign financial institutions and entities, following similar measures imposed on designated financial institutions and energy companies in Russia starting in 2014. The newly announced measures in respect of Belarus also restrict the provision of insurance and reinsurance to these entities, and prohibit dealings in listed petroleum and potassium chloride products exported from Belarus. The new sanctions were imposed in coordination with the United States and United Kingdom, although the specific measures vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction.

The newly announced measures are included in the Special Economic Measures (Belarus) Regulations (Belarus Regulations), which were first issued in September 2020. They apply to all Canadian-incorporated businesses, persons in Canada, and Canadian citizens and include the following restrictions:

  • A prohibition against dealing in transferable securities and money market instruments issued by Belarus, three designated banks in Belarus (Belarusbank, Belinvestbank, Belagroprombank), other organizations controlled by Belarus, or persons acting on their behalf of or at their direction. Transferable securities are not exhaustively defined but include treasury bills, certificates of deposit and commercial papers (but not instruments of payment).

  • A prohibition against dealing in debt of longer that 90 days’ maturity in relation to Belarus or entities and persons noted above. This prohibition mirrors a similar measure currently included in the Special Economic Measures (Russia) Regulations in respect of designated Russian financial institutions and energy companies. Debt is given a broad meaning in both regulations and includes bonds, loans, debentures, extensions of credit, loan guarantees, letters of credit, bank drafts, bankers’ acceptances, discount notes, treasury bills, commercial paper and other similar instruments.

  • A prohibition against providing directly or indirectly, insurance or reinsurance to Belarus or entities and persons noted above.

  • A prohibition against importing, purchasing, acquiring, shipping or otherwise dealing in listed petroleum or potassium chloride products and providing certain related services.

Certain narrow exceptions apply to these prohibitions.

Financial institutions, securities dealers, portfolio managers, fund managers, custodians and other participants in the capital markets and financial services industry may consider taking proactive measures, and update their existing controls, to ensure that they do not directly or indirectly hold or acquire securities prohibited by the Belarus Regulations. Where controls have already been implemented to block dealings in securities currently restricted under the Special Economic (Russia) Regulations, these controls may be leveraged or expanded to capture the newly sanctioned securities.

AMENDMENT TO MONTHLY SANCTIONS REPORTING REQUIREMENT

Effective June 29, 2021, the requirement under the Justice for Victims of Corrupt Foreign Officials Act (Sergei Magnitsky Law) (SML) for financial institutions and securities dealers and advisers to file a monthly report with their principal regulator in relation to the designated list under the SML has been repealed. Under the amended SML, a report to a principal regulator is required only where there is an actual match with the designated list under SML, in which case a report is due every three months.

For OSFI-regulated financial institutions, the SML monthly reports were filed under form OSFI-590. That form has not been updated as of the date of this bulletin to reflect the recent changes to the legislation.

Updates may also be required to the form of monthly sanctions report published by the Canadian Securities Administrators and the instructions issued by the Investment Industry Regulatory Organization of Canada.

Monthly reports (including nil reports) continue to be required in respect of terrorist organizations designated under the Criminal Code.

For more information on Canadian sanctions laws and the reporting requirements, please see our updated Primer on Canadian Sanctions Legislation.

For further information in relation to financial institutions, please contact:

Vladimir Shatiryan       416-863-4154
Ora Morison                416-863-2712

or any other member of our Financial Services Regulatory group.

For further information in relation to trade sanctions, please contact:

Greg Kanargelidis       416-863-4306

or any other member of our International Trade group.