Belfast Telegraph

Stiff penalties to be imposed over financial sanctions breaches

Multimillion pound fines are set to be imposed on those who commit serious breaches of financial sanctions under tough new Government powers.

The Treasury's Office of Financial Sanctions Implementation (OFSI), which was set up in March, will be able to impose penalties from next April of up to £1 million or 50% of the breach - whichever is higher.

It comes as part of a crackdown on financial sanctions breaches in the Policing and Crime Bill going through Parliament.

The Treasury has now launched a consultation on how best to impose the cash penalties.

Financial sanctions can be placed on countries, terrorist groups, business and industrial sectors, as well as individuals.

They are used to deny access to resources, protect assets that have been misappropriated, signal disapproval and send broader political messages.

The Treasury dealt with more than 100 suspected breaches last year, including those who deliberately channelled money to organisations or individuals subject to financial sanctions when their bank account or finances are frozen.

The biggest breach so far this year was worth around £15 million and would have landed the perpetrators with a fine of up to £7.5 million under the new regime.

Economic Secretary Simon Kirby said: " Financial sanctions are a powerful tool in defending our national security, but their strength has been diluted by those who breach sanctions regulations.

"These new cash penalties will incentivise everyone to comply with the rules, keeping our country safe and strong."

The UK has more than 27 United Nations, European Union and domestic financial sanctions in place, covering just over 1,900 individuals, groups and countries.

As well as handing out fines, the OFSI will also publish details of serious breaches to help act as a deterrent.