On 7 December 2020, the Council of the EU announced the introduction of a new global human rights sanctions regime, as part the EU Action Plan on Human Rights and Democracy 2020-2024.
The new regime introduces a framework to impose a travel ban and asset freeze on individuals and entities identified as responsible for, involved in or associated with, serious human rights violations and abuses worldwide.
On 5 October 2018, HM Treasury’s Office of Financial Sanctions Implementation (OFSI) published its Annual Review for the 2017-18 financial year. This is the first such review published by OFSI and provides an overview of OFSI’s activities in 2017-18, as well as looking to the future. We set out some of the highlights of the Annual Review below.
The Annual Review confirms that 122 new asset freeze targets (or “designated persons”) were added to the UK Consolidated List, mostly under the DPRK and ISIL regimes. During this period, the UK also introduced ‘avoidance of delay’ provisions allowing new UN sanctions regimes to be implemented immediately after the relevant resolution is adopted (rather than waiting for EU action, as was previously the case), reducing the risk of asset flight.
In 2017-18, 122 suspected breaches of financial sanctions were reported to OFSI. OFSI did not impose any monetary penalties in 2017-18 (having had the power to do so since April 2017), but it is currently investigating several cases where a penalty may be appropriate. OFSI states that it is likely to impose monetary penalties in 2018-19, although the majority of cases will continue to be resolved by enforcement activity short of a penalty.
The Annual Review says that OFSI will continue to raise awareness of financial sanctions obligations in 2018-19, by producing guidance and speaking at events. It will ensure it maintains a central role in global sanctions implementation as the UK prepares to leave the EU. It is said that the Sanctions and Anti-Money Laundering Act, which received Royal Assent in May, will help to achieve this.
Following the announcement of the new strategies on Iran in October 2017, on January 12, 2018, the Trump administration announced that it will continue to waive the application of certain nuclear sanctions under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (“JCPOA”) as a “last chance.” In a statement, the President states that he intends to pursue a supplemental agreement with European allies of the US, and in the absence of such an agreement, the United States will ultimately withdraw from the JCPOA. Continue reading