On 8 June 2022, the UK’s Office of Financial Sanctions Implementation (“OFSI”) released updated guidance concerning its enforcement of the civil monetary penalties regime for breaches of financial sanctions. The update coincides with the introduction of two major amendments to the civil UK sanctions regime that came into force on 15 June 2022, which now mean that OFSI is:
- no longer required to demonstrate that a person had knowledge or reasonable cause to suspect they were in breach of a financial sanction in assessing whether to issue a monetary penalty. This strict liability test brings the UK regime more in line with the U.S. model used for financial sanctions; and
- able to publish details of financial sanctions breaches where a monetary penalty has not been imposed.
It seems inevitable that the increased sanctions risks (and regulatory scrutiny) created by the UK’s response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, combined with these legislative amendments, will lead to more sanctions enforcement activity, civil penalties, criminal referrals to the NCA, and possibly prosecutions. This has been reflected in recent comments made by OFSI.
In this C&G client alert, Sir David Green CB QC, Tim Harris, and Ashley Collins examine the amended UK sanctions regime and the prospects for increased UK sanctions enforcement activity (civil, regulatory, and criminal).