Numerous police measures have been taken in Germany as part of the EU sanctions that have been successively imposed against Russia since 2014—in coordination with the USA, the UK, Canada, and other partner countries—affecting exports and economic and media cooperation with Russia. On 24 February 2020, further sanctions were adopted, including the freezing of assets as a consequence of a violation.

If you fear such a measure or a search of your private and business premises or are already affected by such measures, our lawyers will stand by your side to defend your rights and interests. We have extensive experience in dealing with sanction measures and the authorities involved to guarantee you an efficient strategic defence. Our lawyers will first clarify whether there is a sufficient basis for authorisation and which items may be confiscated during a seizure. In this way, we ensure that the execution of the measure strictly follows the legal requirements. However, should the legality of the measure be objectionable, our lawyers will immediately lodge an appropriate appeal so that your rights are safeguarded and, if necessary, your frozen assets or confiscated items are returned immediately. In the case of a fine notice, we will check whether an appeal is appropriate and, if so, lodge it. Contact us today to benefit from our expertise.

Schlun & Elseven Rechtsanwälte provides comprehensive advice on the legal aspects of violations of the Russia sanctions. Our German lawyers can be reached by phone and email and provide video conferencing options. For more legal information, please visit our German Criminal law homepage.

Sanctions List and Consequences of a Violation

The sanctions list, which has been in place since 2014, was significantly expanded and updated in the context of the Russian attack on Ukraine. These are far-reaching financial and economic sanctions that also include extensive trade restrictions. The 13th sanctions package significantly affects companies that contribute to the military and technological strengthening of Russia or the development of its defence and security sector. According to the German government, the sale of militarily usable goods to them from the EU is thus prohibited. Further trade restrictions have also been added to the sanctions list.

Violations of EU sanctions constitute criminal or administrative offences in Germany. The consequences are to be found, in particular, in Sections 18 and 19 of the German Foreign Trade and Payments Act (AWG) and Section 82 of the German Foreign Trade and Payments Ordinance (AWV).

Section 18 (AWG)
Provisions on penalties

(1) A prison sentence from three months up to five years shall be imposed on anyone who

1. violates a

a) prohibition on export, import, transit, transfer, sale, acquisition, delivery, provision, passing on, or investment or

b) prohibition on broadcasting, transmission, dissemination or other services or

c) prohibition on the disposal of frozen money and economic assets

of a directly applicable act of the European Communities or the European Union published in the Official Journal of the European Communities or the European Union which serves to implement an economic sanction adopted by the Council of the European Union in the field of Common Foreign and Security Policy or


Section 19
Provisions on fines

(6) In the cases of subsections 1, 3 no. 1 letter a and subsection 4 sentence 1 no. 1 , the administrative offence can be punished by a fine of up to five hundred thousand euro, in the other cases by a fine of up to thirty thousand euro.

The sanctions list should therefore always be taken seriously. Ideally, you should contact us in advance, i.e. as soon as the risk of being sanctioned becomes apparent, so that we can advise you on the available options for action. Our German lawyers for compliance, tax and customs law are also available to answer other questions relating to foreign trade law.

Legal Basis for Searches in Germany

Since violations of the sanctions list are in part criminal offences in Germany, the same official authorisations exist as for other criminal offences. A person suspected of violating a sanction may have their home and other premises, as well as their person and property belonging to them, searched both for the purpose of apprehending them and if it is suspected that the search will lead to the discovery of evidence, Section 102 of the German Code of Criminal Procedure (StPO). This means that a search can be ordered if there is an initial suspicion.

Russia Sanctions: Current Case Law on the Search of Private and Business Premises in Germany

No uniform treatment can be recognised for the searches that have been legally assessed in Germany to date. For example, the search of a motor yacht belonging to a Russian-Uzbek citizen was challenged by means of a constitutional complaint. The person concerned claimed that his rights under Article 13 (1) of the German Basic Law (GG), Article 2 (1) in conjunction with Article 1 (1) GG, Article 2 (1) GG, Article 101 (1) sentence 2 GG and Article 103 (1) GG had been violated. However, the German Federal Constitutional Court dismissed the constitutional complaint as inadmissible. The complainant did not sufficiently substantiate his complaint so that no decision was made on the merits as to whether the search was unlawful or not.

The search of a law firm representing a Russian-Uzbek entrepreneur was categorised as a serious interference with fundamental rights. The Frankfurt Regional Court argued that everyone has the statutory right to be represented by a lawyer, meaning that it was not unlawful for the law firm to accept money from its Russian client for its legal services.

If you are affected by the EU sanctions, the German law firm Schlun & Elseven Rechtsanwälte offers committed and skilled legal assistance. Our lawyers will examine your case with the necessary thoroughness to develop the best possible strategy in close cooperation with you. We will also advise you on how you can avoid sanction offences. Regardless of whether it is a question of preventive measures or an objection to impending criminal or fine proceedings – we will accompany you every step of the way to ensure that your rights and interests are always protected. Further information on the sanctions list can be found on the website of the German Federal Office of Economics Affairs and Export Control.