Joint Media Release: Aussie coal company must be held accountable for likely breaching Russian sanctions laws

ASX-listed Tigers Realm Coal Limited are captured by Australia’s sanctions laws, the Federal Court has found yesterday, in dismissing the company’s challenge of the application of these laws to its coal operations in Russia. In his decision, Justice Kennett rejected Tigers Realm’s narrow interpretation of the word “transport” in the Autonomous Sanctions Regulations, instead finding that the ordinary meaning of transport encompasses the activities of the company’s Russian subsidiaries.

Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, Tigers Realm has continued, through its Russian subsidiaries, to mine, load and sell Russian coal. This includes mining 1,601,000 tonnes (1,601 kt) of coal resulting in $140,125,000 in revenue in 2023 alone, according to Tigers Realm’s 2023 Annual Financial Report. Three of Tigers Realm’s Russian subsidiaries have paid around A$13 million in taxes and fees to the Russian state between 2018 and 2021 and set aside millions more in future royalty liabilities.

Russian coal has been an import sanctioned good in Australia since April 2022.

One of Tigers Realm’s main shareholders is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) – a Russian Sovereign Wealth Fund setup by Putin – which is a sanctioned entity under Australia, US, UK and Canada sanctions laws.

Melissa Chen, Senior Lawyer from Australian Centre for International Justice made the following comments:

“It is vital that Australian agencies take action to investigate any breaches of Australia’s sanctions laws, and consider criminal prosecution in light of today’s court outcome and Tigers Realm’s unceasing mining activities in Russia since Russian coal was made an import sanctioned good in April 2022. Lack of accountability breeds impunity.”


“Australia needs strong, enforceable sanctions laws to effectively condemn Russia’s immoral and illegal invasion of Ukraine, and to cut off the financial resources which fuel the corrupt and murderous Putin regime.”

Clancy Moore, CEO of Transparency International Australia made the following comments:

“Corruption, money laundering and murder are the tools of the trade for the Putin regime so any Australian company in Russia risks being complicit in Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.”


“What’s more, contravening Australia’s sanctions laws is a serious criminal offence with penalties including up to ten years in prison and a hefty financial penalty.”

Timeline of events:

In April 2023, Tigers Realm Coal disagreed with DFAT’s assessment that its mining operations were likely to be prohibited under Australia’s sanctions laws, instead stating that they were considering applying for a permit and outlining an intention to privatise the company in a possible attempt to avoid the application of these sanctions laws.

On 21 June 2023, the Australian Centre for International Justice, Transparency International Australia and Ukraine, and Razom We Stand publicly urged the government to refuse to grant a sanctions permit to Tigers Realm, arguing that this would not be in Australia’s national interest and could undermine the broader objectives of Australia’s sanctions regime against Russia.

On 22 June 2023, Tigers Realm filed an application in the Federal Court, seeking declarations that Australia’s sanctions laws do not apply to its coal mining activities in Russia.

On 4 July 2023, Tigers Realm made an ASX announcement, stating that its potential privatisation and delisting from the ASX were being suspended.

On 4 March 2024, the hearing in relation to Tigers Realm’s court action commenced.

On 9 April 2024, the Federal Court dismissed Tigers Realm’s application, finding that the activities of the company’s subsidiaries in producing and transporting coal for import into third countries from Russia are captured by Australia’s sanctions laws. The Court also ordered that Tigers Realm pay the Commonwealth’s costs.

Media contacts:

‍Australian Centre for International Justice: Rawan Arraf: +61 (0)450 708 870

Transparency International Australia: Clancy Moore: +61 (0) 410 508 051


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