British investigators examine potential sanctions violations against Iran

British financial investigators have examined a series of alleged violations of the British sanctions program targeting Iran’s nuclear program.

The UK Financial Sanctions Enforcement Office (Ofsi) said in its annual review of frozen assets of £ 12.2 billion ($ 16.79 billion) that it considers 132 potential sanctions violations during of the year until April 2021, with Iran-related cases making up “a significant proportion of those reports.” has received”.

The UK was once part of a larger EU sanctions program, but in 2021 it launched its own autonomous system after Brexit, although many of its goals are similar to the EU’s agenda. .

It has 2,213 targets – three-quarters of which are individuals – who are subject to asset freezes that prevent them from using money held in UK accounts.

The body said many of the alleged Iranian cases were historical in nature and linked to potential violations before the 2015 nuclear deal that lifted some sanctions in exchange for Iran’s restriction of its nuclear program.

“Breaches of financial sanctions are a criminal offense,” said OFSI, with penalties of fines and up to seven years in prison for individuals.

He declined to give more details on the sums of money related to the potential violations and said many of his investigations were complex and could take many years. The 140 violations recorded the previous year were linked to transactions worth nearly £ 1 billion.

Violations can include a fine by a bank for loaning money to a sanctioned entity, such as the OFSi’s record £ 20.5million penalty for Standard Chartered Bank, which overturned penalties imposed after the invasion of Ukraine by Russia.

Financial institutions and other bodies are required by law to notify authorities if they suspect a person or entity on the sanctions list of being financially active in violation of the rules. Most of the reports are from banks, but countries, charities and lawyers have sounded the alarm as well.

As of September last year, UK financial institutions held around £ 12.2 billion in frozen assets from 33 different programs, the vast majority of which, £ 11.53 billion, were linked to Libya.

Iran’s nuclear proliferation sanctions regime includes the second highest amount of frozen funds, amounting to £ 461million. Sanctions targeting Syria (£ 159m), Ukraine (£ 45m) and North Korea (£ 3m) are as follows.

The asset foreclosure figures do not include properties, but 16 were frozen in 2019, according to previous figures.

Update: October 16, 2021 3:00 a.m.

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