Criminal investigations into seven Dutch companies and their directors for allegedly breaching European Union sanctions, by helping Moscow to build the bridge between Crimea and mainland Russia began in May 2018.

The companies involved are alleged to have supplied machines, machine parts and other services for the construction of the 19-kilometer-long bridge spanning the Strait of Kerch, the offences having taken place between November 2015 and the end of 2017.

It was reported on Friday that the Dutch court had found four unnamed companies and eight individuals guilty of violating sanctions imposed by the European Union after the annexation of the Crimean Peninsula by Russia in 2014.

Eight people were sentenced to community service while fines were imposed on the companies totaling €160,000 ($169,000). In addition, the financial benefit obtained by one of the companies, €71,330 ($75,270), was confiscated by the Dutch prosecutor.

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This is understood to be well short of the maximum penalties available to the courts which, for individuals in breach of sanctions could be six years in prison or a fine of €82,000 euros and for companies fines of up to €820,000.

In announcing the verdicts, the court said “The Crimean bridge was built partly due to the use of Dutch knowledge and expertise.

“This is a serious offense, undermining the EU sanction regime,” the statement continued.

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However, the Dutch news website NL Times reported that sentences were imposed without the need for a trial having reached settlement agreements with the companies and individuals involved.

The penalties inflicted to these defendants suggests they were “minor offences.” The outstanding cases against three companies and an unknown number of individuals are likely to go to trial before the end of the year, suggesting more serious infringements of the sanctions imposed.

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