Foreign trade criminal law

Sanctions, Dual-Use Items, Arms, US (re-)export control

CRIMINAL DEFENSE AGAINST ALLEGATIONS OF VIOLATIONS OF THE FOREIGN TRADE AND PAYMENTS ACT (AWG)

Export Control

The central regulations on export control in German law are found in the Foreign Trade and Payments Act (AWG) and the Foreign Trade and Payments Ordinance (AWV). The Foreign Trade and Payments Act lays down the basis for controls and licensing obligations and contains the central regulations on criminal offenses and administrative offenses in the area of foreign trade and payments law. Based on this, the AWV lays down the details for required licenses. Annex AL of the AWV, the German export list, is of great importance. In its section A, the Export List contains the German Military List, and in its section B a list of national (additional) dual-use goods items.

In relation to the Foreign Trade and Payments Act and the Foreign Trade and Payments Ordinance, the Dual-Use Regulation, as an EU regulation, generally takes precedence. In the area of dual-use goods, the AWV therefore in fact only contains supplementary regulations, on the one hand for issues which the Dual-Use Regulation does not regulate, and on the other hand for areas in which the Dual-Use Regulation expressly allows the EU Member States to issue more far-reaching national regulations.

The legal situation is different, however, in the area of controls for military goods: In principle, the EU has no legislative powers in the area of defense. Coordination of member states' defense policies takes place in the Council of the European Union within the framework of the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP). Common positions of the Council concerning military equipment must be implemented by the member states in their national law. Accordingly, German law contains its own regulations for the area of military equipment, for example on penalties and the granting of licenses. However, these have been largely aligned with the corresponding regulations of the Dual-Use Regulation.

The War Weapons Control Act (KrWaffG) contains more extensive requirements for the export and import of certain military equipment. War weapons are defined as "weapons intended for warfare", which are covered by the Annex to Section 1 (1) of the War Weapons Control Act, the so-called War Weapons List. In general, it can be said that all weapons that are typically used as offensive weapons by a state are considered war weapons and are subject to the special requirements of the KrWaffG.

Foreign trade criminal law

Foreign trade criminal law is a branch of criminal law that deals with violations of foreign trade laws. These laws regulate international trade and the transfer of goods, technology and services between different countries. The purpose of foreign trade criminal law is to ensure the protection of national interests in international trade and to punish violations.

Violations of foreign trade criminal law can have serious legal and economic consequences. Typical violations include, for example, exporting embargoed goods, selling goods or services to sanctioned countries or persons, or transferring technology that can be used for military purposes.

Penalties for violations of foreign trade criminal law can be severe, depending on their severity. Consequences include stiff fines, seizure of goods, confiscation of proceeds, or imprisonment. Some offenses constitute crimes (particularly serious offenses with a minimum penalty of one year imprisonment, especially if committed on a commercial and/or gang basis).

German companies are subject to German and European legislation in export control. In foreign trade audits as well as in the prosecution of criminal offenses, German authorities (customs, public prosecutors, etc.) apply only German and European law. However, a special feature applies with regard to goods from the United States.

US export control law is the only national export control law with extraterritorial effect. To protect its national security, the U.S. has standardized controls that cover, among other things, re-exports of U.S. goods abroad. For this reason, non-US companies also come into contact with US (re-)export control regulations.

Russia sanctions

The European Union (EU) has imposed several sanctions on Russia in response to its actions in Ukraine, including its annexation of Crimea and its involvement in the conflict in eastern Ukraine. The sanctions are intended to put pressure on Russia to comply with international law and respect Ukraine's sovereignty.

Starting in May 2023, the EU sanctions against Russia include.

1. asset freezes and travel bans: The EU has imposed asset freezes and travel bans on individuals and entities involved in the annexation of Crimea and destabilization of Ukraine. The list of sanctioned individuals and entities is updated regularly.

2. import restrictions: The EU has imposed import restrictions on certain goods from Crimea and Sevastopol, such as goods originating from or transported through the region.

3. restrictions on access to EU capital markets: The EU has restricted access to EU capital markets for certain Russian state-owned enterprises and their subsidiaries.

4. restrictions on access to sensitive technologies: The EU has imposed restrictions on the export of certain technologies to Russia, including technologies for the oil and gas sector and dual-use items that can be used for military purposes.

5. restrictions on cooperation: the EU has suspended cooperation with Russia in several areas, including defense and energy.

6. economic sanctions: The EU has imposed economic sanctions on Russia, including restrictions on certain economic sectors such as finance, energy, and defense.

The sanctions can have significant consequences for individuals and companies that violate them, including heavy fines and substantial prison sentences.

Please note

The presentations on our website can of course not replace legal advice in individual cases. Please contact us for help with your specific concern. We will be happy to assist you in word and deed!

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