The European Commission has put forward a proposal to harmonise criminal offences and penalties for the violation of EU sanctions.

The proposal follows a decision by the Council which identified the violation of EU sanctions as an EU crime (see here for our previous blog post on this) and sets out common EU rules, which will make it easier to investigate, prosecute and punish violations of EU sanctions in all Member States alike.

The main elements of the proposal include:

A list of criminal offences, which violate EU sanctions, such as:

  • making funds or economic resources available to, or for the benefit of, a designated person, entity or body;
  • failing to freeze these funds;
  • enabling the entry of designated people into the territory of a Member State or their transit through the territory of a Member State;
  • entering into transactions with third countries, which are prohibited or restricted by EU restrictive measures;
  • trading in goods or services whose import, export, sale, purchase, transfer, transit or transport is prohibited or restricted;
  • providing financial activities which are prohibited or restricted; or
  • providing other services which are prohibited or restricted, such as legal advisory services, trust services and tax consulting services.

Offences will cover circumventing an EU restrictive measure: this means bypassing or attempting to bypass restrictive measures by concealing funds  or concealing the fact that a person is the ultimate owner of funds.

Common basic standards for penalties: depending on the offence, the individual person could be liable to a maximum penalty of at least five years in prison; companies could be liable to penalties of no less than 5% of the total worldwide turnover of the legal person (company) in the business year preceding the fining decision.

The Commission’s proposal will now have to go through the European Parliament and Council before it gets adopted.