Guidance

Suspected breach of financial sanctions – what to do

If you suspect that a breach of financial sanctions has occurred, you need to contact OFSI at the earliest opportunity.

OFSI is responsible for rapidly detecting, responding to and addressing financial sanctions breaches, which are a criminal offence.

You should report suspected breaches to us as soon as you become aware of them. Reporting breaches protects the integrity of sanctions and helps the government and law enforcement agencies tackle serious crime.

Suspected breach form

To disclose a breach – by yourself or another person or organisation – please complete the form above and send it to OFSI.

How to report a breach

In your report, you should include the names of all parties involved, relevant amounts, account names and numbers, and when the suspected breach was discovered. Information provided as part of this disclosure shall be disclosed to third parties only in compliance with the Data Protection Act 1998.

Please email this form, including any associated documents, to ofsi@hmtreasury.gsi.gov.uk with “SUSPECTED BREACH” in the subject line.

For more information and guidance on financial sanctions, please visit our guidance page. You can also contact OFSI by phone on 020 7270 5454 (Mon-Fri, 09:00-17:00).

What is a breach?

If you do something which is prohibited by financial sanctions and, at the time you did so, you knew or had reasonable cause to suspect that the act was prohibited, you will have breached financial sanctions and may face criminal prosecution or a monetary penalty.

OFSI work with the relevant law enforcement agencies and regulators to consider all suspected breach cases that are reported.

Financial sanctions are generally widely publicised and businesses, particularly those operating internationally, will have reasonable cause to suspect that sanctions might affect their transactions. These organisations will not be able to avoid liability simply by failing to consider their sanctions risks.

Consequences of breaching financial sanctions

When deciding how to respond to a breach, OFSI and the relevant enforcement agencies and regulators will consider:

  • the timeliness with which the breach was disclosed
  • whether it was self-disclosed
  • the level of cooperation with any investigation
  • actions taken to improve future compliance

Where a breach has occurred, but it is not considered ‘serious’, OFSI will issue a warning to the involved parties and request evidence of actions taken to improve future compliance.

A breach is considered ‘serious’ where it may have damaged the integrity of the relevant financial sanctions. It may involve making funds directly available to those subject to sanctions, or deliberately evading sanctions.

For these breaches, OFSI may refer cases to the appropriate regulators and enforcement agencies, providing them with relevant case information. They would then decide whether to pursue a criminal prosecution. OFSI is also able to impose monetary penalties in cases where serious breaches of financial sanctions occur. This power provides an alternative to warning firms who don’t comply and criminal prosecution.

Published 4 August 2017