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22 Mar 2022

Linde Bryk & Gõran Sluiter, Ejil:Talk!

Russia: Academic analysis shows why companies should cease business activities to avoid corporate criminal liability risks

"Why Corporations Should Cease Business Activities with Russia", 22 March 2022

Early morning 24 February, Russian troops invaded Ukraine, with already devastating consequences for civilians. As a response to this flagrant violation of Article 2(4) of the UN Charter, the EU, the UK and the US have imposed expansive sanctions on Russia. Even though these sanctions ban certain trade, or freeze assets of Russian banks and individuals, not all EU, UK and US corporations might stop their trade, investment or cooperation with Russia or Russian (largely) state-owned corporations, such as Rosneft. In this blogpost we argue that corporations should consider withdrawing investments or business activities, not only from a moral and ethical perspective, but also to avoid contributing to the commission of international crimes, with the subsequent risk to be held criminally liable...

Our analysis is based on criminal liability risks under international criminal law (ICL), focusing on the incorporation and application of ICL in the Dutch legal order... [because] Dutch courts have shown a willingness to convict businesspersons for complicity in war crimes for their corporate activities...

There is considerable evidence that Russia has committed war crimes and aggression in Ukraine. Companies cannot turn a blind eye and need to conduct proper due diligence if they consider – or continue – doing business with Russia... corporations should seriously consider ceasing business activities with Russia, (largely) state owned Russian corporations, and armed groups in Eastern Ukraine. Not only for moral and ethical reasons, but also to avoid investigation and prosecution for facilitating international crimes.