Asked in Contracts and International Law for New York

Q: I have an American client who has stocks, bonds, and other liquid assets in Russia currently frozen.

I have an American client who has stocks, bonds, and other liquid assets in Russia currently frozen. The US and EU sanctions don’t apply to me, to the client, or to these assets. Can US lawyers help me sell, transfer, or otherwise get them out?

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1 Lawyer Answer
Richard Sternberg
Richard Sternberg
  • International Law Lawyer
  • Potomac, MD

A: I’ve been asked a number of times about getting investment money out of Russia without violating US and EU sanctions and avoiding Russian monetary limitations enacted in response to the sanctions. Indeed, the topic appeared in a recent article in Bloomberg, but, handled correctly, this topic has little to do with the sanctions of the United States or the European Union, since the freezing of funds was carried out by the Russian authorities. The trick is to coordinate the legal work in the US or EU complying with sanctions with the work of Russian lawyers obtaining special licenses from the Russian authorities to unfreeze funds and to reinvest frozen funds in other assets located in Russia, since the Russian government does not allow money to be withdrawn from the country. After the money is invested in new types of businesses (securities, real estate, etc.), it is possible to transfer part of the funds to the United States. There will be transactional expenses from legal fees from researching and managing the transactions, and there will be more losses from the transactions, themselves. Only part of the funds will make it to the USA, since the remainder will be invested in non-sanctioned Russian assets. Without this, it won’t be possible to obtain a license from the Russian authorities to unfreeze funds. But as they say, it's better to get a part than to get nothing. At the same time, money to American accounts will come not from Russia, but from a third country. Therefore, there is no question of any sanctions.

We have found a qualified Russian legal team to work with. This procedure is time-consuming and multi-step, the financial losses at each step will be significant. The process has to be individually designed based on the assets involved. We should be able to estimate the financial costs by studying the specific circumstances of each individual client. It’s never been cheaper than 30% so far, though we’re always seeking efficiencies, and, with larger accounts, we may be able to cut at least the legal fees. It is possible to pay less if you pay as the work is performed or take the fees from the proceeds.

Stanislav Kshevitskii agrees with this answer

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