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Russia's Ingosstrakh says weighing legal action after UK sanctions

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia's Ingosstrakh said on Friday it may challenge UK sanctions in court and was seeking clarification about the measures imposed on the country's leading insurer that the British government announced on Thursday.

Ingosstrakh, which provides services to Russian oil exporters including ship insurance cover, was added to the list of designated Russian entities by the UK government's sanctions enforcement arm OFSI.

"The reasons pertaining to the OFSI sanctions upon Ingosstrakh remain unclear to us since Ingosstrakh operates in strict compliance with all applicable legislation and follows all due compliance procedures," the company told Reuters via emailed comments.

"We shall seek clarification with the possibility of legally contesting them."

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Britain imposed separate sanctions on Thursday on four vessels in Russia's so-called shadow fleet, in what it said were efforts to "ramp up economic pressure" on Moscow.

According to estimates from a Group of Seven (G7) member seen by Reuters, sanctions have deprived Russia of at least $100 billion in lost oil revenues on top of the confiscation of $280 billion in central bank assets.

Russian oil exporters are charging more for their oil in major market India than at any time since the war in Ukraine started as a growing number of shippers and intermediaries take part in the trade, weakening the impact of Western sanctions on Moscow, Reuters reported on Friday.

"The designation of Ingosstrakh is unlikely to deter operators from transporting Russian oil in itself as those using Ingosstrakh to insure their liabilities... have already decided to operate without an insurer within G7 jurisdiction," Malin Hogberg, director, corporate legal, with Western ship insurer Swedish Club, told Reuters.

"The potential effect lies in whether e.g. Indian authorities will reconsider their stance on accepting vessels insured by a freshly sanctioned insurer into their ports," said Hogberg, who is also chair of the sanctions committee of the International Group association of top ship insurers.

Up to 850 oil tankers are estimated to form the shadow fleet transporting oil from countries such as Iran and Venezuela as well as Russia, which has multiple restrictions on its oil exports.

(Reporting by Vladimir Soldatkin and Jonathan Saul; Editing by Jan Harvey)