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Bermuda will follow UK sanctions against Russia

Lawrence Scott, the Minister of Transport, will update Parliament on the latest with regard to the British sanctions imposed in light of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Addressing the matter yesterday, David Burt, the Premier and finance minister, confirmed that once implemented, the British sanctions are applicable here, as Bermuda is an overseas territory of the United Kingdom.

The Premier said: “There are approximately 900 aircraft on the registry and approximately 740 are utilised by Russian operators. The majority of these aircraft are owned by leasing companies based in Ireland.

“The leasing companies require a jurisdiction with an unquestionable rule of law and a judicial system to enable collections in the event of default. And that is why Bermuda is their jurisdiction of choice.

“The Bermuda Civil Aviation Authority is carefully reviewing sanctions in co-ordination with other stakeholders to ensure that they, and relevant entities with which it regulates, are in full compliance with the applicable sanctions while maintaining its safety and its oversight obligations.

“While the Bermuda Civil Aviation Authority continues to review its sanctions, there is no question that the number of aircraft on the Bermuda Aircraft Registry utilised by Russian air operators will be greatly impacted.

“I am not able to provide any specifics at this time. However, updates will be provided as the actualities of the sanctions come to light.

“And the Minister of Transport will be making a further statement to the House of Assembly, either on Friday, March 4th, or Monday, March 7th, on the latest in this regard.”

Meanwhile, British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss has pledged that Bermuda and its sister British Overseas Territories are doing everything they can to ensure that “Putin’s oligarchs have nowhere to hide”.

She was responding to Plaid Cymru MP Liz Savile Roberts who advised the House of Commons that Bermuda had more than 700 leased Russian aircraft on the aviation registry.

“For far too long,” she claimed, “weak UK regulation of ‘Londongrad’ and tax haven overseas territories has enabled Putin’s regime.”

Ms Truss replied: “We are working closely with the overseas territories to make sure that Putin’s oligarchs have nowhere to hide.”

The House of Commons exchange came as the Bermuda Civil Aviation Authority said on Monday night that government officials are reviewing all sanctions levied on Russia to ensure that Bermuda is in full compliance.

In the statement, the BCAA confirmed a significant number of the 900-plus aircraft currently registered with Bermuda are utilised by commercial Russian air operators.

The authority said they understood this affiliation with Russia might cause concern.

Bermuda Governor Rena Lalgie and other government officials are reviewing the sanctions to ensure the island is in compliance.

Before coming to Bermuda in 2020, Ms Lalgie spent four years at the UK Treasury as the director of the Office of Financial Sanctions Implementation.

The BCAA said: “It should be made clear the authority within the framework of its aviation legislation is continuing to carefully review all sanctions in co-ordination with other stakeholders, including the Governor of Bermuda and the Ministry of Transport for the Government of Bermuda.

“The BCAA will ensure that the authority and the relevant entities which it regulates are in full compliance with any applicable sanctions now and moving forward.”

The BCAA said Bermuda is regulated by the British Department for Transport and operates as part of the International Civil Aviation Organisation for regulation and safety oversight of aviation in Bermuda and of all the aircraft on the Bermuda Aircraft Registry.

“BCAA operates within a complex safety network of leasing companies and commercial operators, which are governed by international laws. As a regulator, the BCAA is obligated to oversee safe travel.”

Bermuda has the largest offshore aircraft registry. Established in 1931, satellite offices were earmarked for Moscow and Shanghai.

The Russian aircraft may be impacted by sanctions that could terminate insurance agreements, thereby grounding them.

Russian airlines also face looming European sanctions that include a ban on purchases of aircraft, spare parts or related equipment.

Passenger jets with Bermuda registrations were scheduled for delivery to Russian carriers under a lease arrangement.

Russian-owned ships and super yachts may also fall victim to sanctions.

Chelsea Football Club owner Roman Abramovich, one of Russia’s richest men, registered his luxury 530ft superyacht Eclipse in Bermuda.

One of the world’s largest mega yachts, it spent time in Hamilton in 2013 and 2014.

Also said to be registered in Bermuda is Super Yacht A, owned by Andriy Melichenko, who is reported to dominate the coal industry in Russia. The eight-deck, 465ft yacht was said to have cost $425 million to build.

Britain has warned that Russian vessels will be banned from British ports.

David Burt, the Premier, briefly addressed the sanctions issue during a Zoom press conference today (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

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Published March 02, 2022 at 7:44 am (Updated March 02, 2022 at 7:44 am)

Bermuda will follow UK sanctions against Russia

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