In a statement published on 1 December 2016,1 HM Treasury's Office of Financial Sanctions Implementation ("OFSI") has confirmed that it will be able to impose higher monetary penalties for breaches of financial sanctions in the UK from April 2017. This new penalties regime reflects the UK government's increasingly tough response to sanctions breaches, as set out in the Policing and Crime Bill currently being debated and passed through the Parliament. The Bill establishes the maximum penalty for serious sanctions violations at the higher of £1 million or 50% of the total value of the breach.

For purposes of the new sanctions penalty scheme, OFSI intends to publish guidance on the circumstances in which a monetary penalty will be considered suitable, and how the penalty amount is set. In addition, the details of any such penalties imposed will be published.

Accordingly, HM Treasury also confirmed the launch of an open consultation on its proposed approach to imposing civil monetary penalties on 1 December 2016.2 The consultation invites public comments on the processes OFSI will use to decide:

  • whether a civil monetary penalty is suitable;
  • the level of any penalty;
  • the process for imposing the penalty; and
  • the circumstances where OFSI will publish details of monetary penalties imposed.

The consultation will close on 26 January 2017.