OFSI updates its enforcement guidance regarding ownership and control by sanctioned persons

On 16 March, the UK's Office of Financial Sanctions Implementation ("OFSI") updated its guidance on monetary penalties and enforcement (the "Guidance") to set out its enforcement approach in cases involving ownership and control by designated persons. This is an issue which has assumed increased prominence during the past year with the escalation of sanctions against Russia and the huge number of additional asset freeze designations made as a result. This has resulted in many companies analysing whether their counterparties may be deemed to be "owned or controlled" by a sanctions target – a question to which there is often no easy answer. Read more

Grand Designs – Next phase in the Digital Pound build

This article was first published in The Banker on 3 March 2023. Final decision yet to be made The world of money is changing. The received wisdom of “cash is king” has long been declining and the world is gradually moving to a more digitised banking space where digital deposits and payments have become dominant; … Read more

SVB UK resolution – where did the powers come from?

At 7am on 13 March 2023 Silicon Valley Bank UK Limited ("SVB UK"), the UK subsidiary of the US bank, was sold to HSBC UK Bank Plc ("HSBC") for £1. The use of these resolution powers was exercised under the Silicon Valley Bank UK Limited Mandatory Reduction and Share Transfer Instrument which came into force at 7am on 13 March 2023. We set out in this post a high-level overview of the powers exercised and what they mean. Read more

Sanctions Tracker: US update – Treasury Expands and Intensifies Sanctions Against Russia by Targeting Key Sectors, Evasion Efforts, and Military Supplies

On February 24, 2023, the one-year anniversary of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) announced significant actions that targeted Russia’s financial services sector, sanctions evasions, Russia’s military supply chain, and metals and mining sector. Under the authority of Executive Order 14024, OFAC targeted the metals and mining sector and imposed sanctions on 22 individuals and 83 entities. OFAC also designated over 30 third-country individuals and companies connected to Russia’s sanctions evasion efforts, including those related to arms trafficking and illicit finance. Read more

Hong Kong SFC paves the way for retail access to crypto platforms … provided safeguards are in place

A major virtual asset (VA) regulatory milestone occurred last week when the Hong Kong Securities and Futures Commission (SFC) published its much anticipated Consultation Paper on the proposed Regulatory Requirements for Virtual Asset Trading Platform Operators Licensed by the Securities and Futures Commission (Consultation Paper). Among other things, the SFC proposes to allow all types of investors, including retail, to access VA trading platforms (VATP) provided the VATP comply with a range of robust investor protection measures. Read more

FCA publishes new Discussion Paper on updating and improving the UK regulatory regime for asset management

Yesterday, the FCA dropped yet another discussion paper (DP 23/2, the DP); this one announcing that the FCA has turned its mind to further changes that might be needed to the regime governing the UK's 2,600 asset managers. The context here is the forthcoming change in the UK's regulatory framework and the FCA's expanded remit that will flow from this and the eventual shift of firm-facing requirements from statute to regulatory rulebooks. Read more