Sanctions lists of the UN Security Council

On March 4th 2016 the Swiss Federal Council enacted a regulation for the automatic adoption of the UN Security Council sanction lists. Any future changes of the UN sanctions lists will become immediately effective in Switzerland. Previously, such changes were subject to an administrative process to find its way into Swiss law (press release (german only)).

With the decision of automatic adoption, Switzerland supports the fast implementation of internationally binding sanctions and thereby the international combat against money laundering, terrorism and proliferation financing as well as the Financial Action Task Force.

This measure does not alter the obligation of companies to ensure that all business relations and transactions are in compliance with international sanction regulations. For initial screening companies can use the SECO SESAM database that will now include the UN sanction list changes the next working day. For regular and ongoing screening of business relations and transactions companies should implement appropriate processes and systems. However, in most cases it is not sufficient to screen against the SECO list only. Companies have to consider that sanction regulations from third country governments or agencies are applicable as well (e.g. EU or US). While this imposes significant complexity and financial burden on companies it has to be considered that besides civil- and criminal charges in Switzerland, Swiss companies and involved individuals can also face significant fines and debarment/sanctions from third countries. Even if unintentionally, the violation of sanction regulations can also be a significant reputational issue that should not be underestimated.