On March 16, 2023, HM Treasury’s Office of Financial Sanctions Implementation (“OFSI”) published an updated version of its Enforcement and Monetary Penalties for Breaches of Financial Sanctions Guidance (“OFSI Guidance”).  The OFSI Guidance outlines OFSI’s compliance and enforcement approach as well as providing an overview of the civil monetary penalty regime and how potential financial sanctions breaches are assessed.  The latest update to the OFSI Guidance sets out the framework within which OFSI will assess breaches of UK financial sanctions that flow from, or involve, an incorrect assessment of the ownership and control of an entity by a UK designated person. 

The publication of the updated OFSI Guidance follows repeated calls for clarity regarding the ownership and control test and OFSI’s enforcement stance in relation to it, particularly following the significant expansion of the Consolidated List in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 and the UK’s introduction of strict civil liability for financial sanctions breaches in June 2022.Continue Reading OFSI Updates Enforcement and Monetary Penalty Guidance to Address the Assessment of Ownership and Control

On March 14, 2023, the UK High Court issued a judgment in the first challenge to a UK sanctions listing under Section 38 of the Sanctions and Anti-Money Laundering Act 2018 (“SAMLA”).  The challenge was brought by LLC Synesis, a Belarusian technology company (“Synesis”) and followed an unsuccessful ministerial review of Synesis’ UK designation.  The High Court rejected the challenge on the grounds that the decision to maintain Synesis’ designation was reasonable and proportionate.  Mr. Justice Jay’s judgment addressed both the threshold for a UK listing and the standard of review the court is required to undertake when assessing a designation decision under Section 38 of SAMLA, points which will have broader relevance to future UK delisting cases.Continue Reading UK High Court Rejects First Challenge to a UK Sanctions Listing

On February 15, 2023, HM Treasury’s Office of Financial Sanctions Implementation (“OFSI”) issued General Licence INT/2023/2711256 (“GL”) in relation to humanitarian activity associated with earthquake relief efforts in Syria and Turkey.  OFSI’s action follows a similar move by OFAC last week, which is discussed in our blog post (here).  On the same day, the Export Control Joint Unit (“ECJU”) also issued General Trade Licence Syria Sanctions – Earthquake Relief Efforts in Syria (“GTL”), to further facilitate humanitarian assistance in relation to the earthquake relief efforts. Continue Reading OFSI and ECJU Issue General Licences for Earthquake Relief in Syria

On February 9, 2023, the UK announced the designation of seven individuals said to be part of a Russia-based cybercrime gang under the UK’s thematic cyber sanctions regime pursuant to The Cyber (Sanctions) (EU Exit) Regulations 2020.  The designations were coordinated with the US.  Concurrently, HM Treasury’s Office of Financial Sanctions Implementation (“OFSI”), in partnership with other HM Government  (“HMG”) organisations, published guidance on sanctions and ransomware, which addresses the impact of ransomware payments, cyber resilience, and HMG’s approach to enforcement of financial sanctions breaches related to ransomware attacks.Continue Reading UK Sanctions Russian Cybercrime Gang and Issues New Guidance on Sanctions and Ransomware

On February 7, 2023, the UK Department for International Trade (“DIT”) published an expanded version of its guidance on supplying professional and business services to a person connected with Russia (“DIT Guidance”), following a broadening of the types of services covered by the ban in December 2022.  The DIT Guidance sets out additional details regarding the services falling within the scope of these sanctions, enforcement, applicable exceptions, and the licence application process.  For more information on the ban on the supply of professional and business services, see our previous blog post (here).Continue Reading UK Expands Guidance on the Supply of Professional and Business Services to Persons Connected with Russia

On February 5, 2023, the UK ban imposed by Part 5, Chapter 4IA of The Russia (Sanctions) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019, as amended (“Russia Regulations”), on the maritime transportation of certain Russian oil products and related services came into effect.  Ahead of the measure coming into force, on February 4, 2023, HM Treasury’s Office of Financial Sanctions Implementation (“OFSI”) published an updated version of its guidance on the UK Maritime Services Prohibition and Oil Price Cap (“OFSI Guidance”), which outlines how the oil products price cap will be implemented, OFSI’s approach to enforcement, and the requirements on involved persons.  OFSI also issued two new General Licences that establish the level of the oil products price cap and establish a wind-down period with respect to certain Russian oil products.Continue Reading UK Oil Price Cap for Russian Refined Oil Products Comes into Effect

On December 15, 2022, The Russia (Sanctions) (EU Exit) (Amendment) (No. 17) Regulations 2022 (“Amendment 17”) were laid before parliament.  Amendment 17 revises existing restrictions on dealing with securities, money market instruments, loans and credit to prohibit new investments in Russia via third countries.  It also introduces a new prohibition on the provision of trust services to designated persons and persons connected with Russia, as well as expanding the existing ban on the provision of specified professional and business services to persons connected with Russia and making additions to the lists of items subject to existing trade sanctions.  Finally, Amendment 17 suspends the Bank of England’s duty under the Banking Act 2009 to make a decision in respect of a notification of third-country resolution action in respect of a designated person, or entities owned or controlled by such a person.  These measures came into effect on December 16, 2022.Continue Reading UK Introduces New Wave of Russia Financial and Trade Sanctions

On November 21, 2022, the UK Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy published guidance on the UK ban on Russian oil and oil products intended for entry into the UK (the “BEIS Guidance”) that was legislated for by the Russia (Sanctions) (EU Exit) (Amendment) (No. 14) Regulations 2022 and will come into effect on December 5, 2022.  Among other things, the BEIS Guidance explains how to determine the origin of oil or oil product imports to the UK and sets out UK sanctions authorities’ expectations with respect to compliance controls in relation to the ban.Continue Reading UK Government Publishes Guidance on the UK Ban on Oil and Oil Products

On November 14, 2022, HM Treasury’s Office of Financial Sanctions Implementation (“OFSI”) published detailed guidance on the recently published ban on the provision of maritime transportation of Russian oil and oil products and related services (“OFSI Guidance”).  The OFSI Guidance sets out additional details regarding how the oil price cap exception will operate as well as the attestation process and reporting obligations with which all parties involved in the maritime supply chain will need to comply.  The OFSI Guidance also addresses OFSI’s proposed approach to enforcement of the new ban.  For more information on the ban on the maritime transportation of Russian oil and oil products and related services, see our previous blog post (here).Continue Reading OFSI Publishes Guidance on the UK Maritime Services Prohibition and Oil Price Cap

On November 3, 2022, a sixteenth amendment to the UK’s Russia sanctions regime was laid before parliament.  The Russia (Sanctions) (EU Exit) (Amendment) (No. 16) Regulations 2022 (“Amendment 16”) introduces a ban on UK ships and services such as insurance, brokerage and shipping facilitating the maritime transport of Russian crude oil from December 5, 2022.  A General Licence is expected to be published shortly that lays the basis for an oil price cap exception, which will allow continued access to services provided that Russian crude oil is purchased at or below the price cap.  The level of the price cap will be set by the price cap coalition of the G7 and Australia in due course.  Amendment 16 brings forward the implementation date for the import bans relating to Russian oil and oil products discussed in our previous blog post (here) from December 31, 2022 to December 5.  Amendment 16 also introduces a comparable ban on refined oil products, which will come into effect on February 5, 2023.Continue Reading New UK Russia Sanctions Legislation Bans the Maritime Transport of Russian Oil