Treasury updates sanctions guidance

HM Treasury and OFSI have updated their guidance on what to do in the case of a suspected breach of financial sanctions. It has published its suspected breach form, and says firms should report suspected breaches as soon as they become aware of them, including the names of all relevant parties, amounts, account names and numbers, and when the suspected breach was discovered.

The guidance stresses that failing to consider sanctions risks will not enable firms to avoid liability – it says that businesses, particularly those that operate internationally, will have reasonable cause to suspect that sanctions might affect their business. OFSI and the relevant enforcement agencies will consider the timeliness of breach reporting, whether it was a self-report, cooperation with any investigation and actions taken to improve future compliance. It also notes what it will consider as a serious breach – which is one which may have damaged the integrity of the relevant sanctions, such as deliberately evading sanctions or making funds directly available to those subject to sanctions.

The guidance notes that the consequences of sanctions breaches can include criminal enforcement action, monetary penalties imposed by OFSI and reporting to relevant regulators.

Treasury and OFSI have also published the form for use when applying for a licence to undertake an activity that would otherwise breach sanctions, and provided guidance on when to apply and how.  It gives examples of the types of licence available, and what it will consider granting a licence for.  It also gives guidance on timings – and will seek to engage with applicants within 4 weeks of receipt of application. It will try to prioritise genuinely urgent applications, but by “urgent” it means life-threatening circumstances.