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Sidley Austin, Venable Drop Russian Bank Clients Amid Sanctions

Feb. 25, 2022, 11:17 PM

Law firms Sidley Austin and Venable said Friday they severed ties with two Russian banks facing new sanctions following the military invasion of Ukraine.

Venable withdrew from its role lobbying the U.S. government for Sberbank, a firm spokesperson confirmed. The law and lobbying firm billed the bank $240,000 for “monitoring new administration sanctions” and other work, according to federal disclosure filings.

Sidley Austin is dropping VTB Group as a client, a firm spokesperson said. The firm previously lobbied for the bank and represented it in court, according to federal disclosures and docket filings.

Both Russian-owned banks are subject to sanctions announced by President Joe Biden on Thursday, shortly after the country’s military forces invaded neighboring Ukraine. The move includes freezing assets and imposing debt and equity restrictions.

The sanctions, and similar moves by the U.K. and European Union, have had lawyers scrambling to help clients navigate the shifting regulatory landscape. Firms are also facing questions about whether they can or should continue working with Russian clients who are state-owned.

The firms’ moves were first reported by CNBC and the Hill.

To contact the reporter on this story: Chris Opfer in New York at copfer@bloomberglaw.com
To contact the editor on this story: John Hughes in Washington at jhughes@bloombergindustry.com