Press release

New guidance to help charities comply with financial sanctions

Charities and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) delivering humanitarian aid in some of the world’s most challenging regions will now benefit from simplified guidance.

Charity FAQ
Charities operating overseas will benefit from simplified guidance.

New guidance has today been published by the Office of Financial Sanctions Implementation (OFSI) to help ensure compliance with financial sanctions which are designed to support UK foreign policy and national security.

OFSI works closely with charities, regulators and banks to understand common challenges faced by those operating in some of the most hostile environments.

The move was prompted by requests, notably from smaller charities, asking for clearer information on issues affecting the sector so they could ensure they complied.

Rena Lalgie, Head of OFSI, said:

We realise that charities often operate in challenging environments. This practical guidance is an important step in our efforts to raise awareness of financial sanctions and help charities and NGOs better understand their responsibilities.

We look forward to continuing to work with the Charity Commission in England and Wales, and its equivalents in Scotland and Northern Ireland, to further the UK’s sanctions and humanitarian aid policies.

Michelle Russell, Director of Investigations, Monitoring and Enforcement at The Charity Commission, said:

We have listened to feedback from our outreach work with charities operating internationally. Some charities weren’t aware that it is illegal to receive money, goods or economic resources from – or send these to – an individual or organisation subject to financial sanctions unless they have a licence or an exemption applies. Others found it challenging to navigate the rules about this. We’re pleased to have worked with OFSI on the guidance to address this knowledge gap.

We will continue to work proactively and collaboratively with international charities and other authorities to ensure that laws designed to restrict access to finances to terrorists and others are complied with, without impacting the important, often life-saving, work of many charities in high-risk areas around the world.

Further information

This guidance helps clarify what activity may be permitted under an OFSI licence and how to apply. It also promotes various sources of information and advice available to charities and NGOs, including OFSI’s email and telephone enquiry service and the Charity Commission’s toolkit for charities and NGOs.

The new guidance document is available on OFSI’s guidance page.

Published 19 October 2017