July 7, 2020

New OFSI licensing requirement to avoid UK Sanctions Act violations

On July 6, 2020, the UK HM Treasury’s Office of Financial Sanctions Implementation announced a new compliance requirement for transactions made pursuant to the Sanctions and Anti-Money Laundering Act 2018 (the Sanctions Act).  According to OFSI, anyone interested in engaging directly or indirectly in a transaction with a person or entity that is subject to financial sanctions, must first obtain a license from the OFSI allowing the activity to proceed in order to avoid a sanctions violation.  The OFSI recommends applying for a license as early as possible, stating that it can only issue individual licenses on specific legal grounds, and warning that a license may take longer than the usual four weeks to process if the transaction is commercially complex.  OFSI offers to prioritize humanitarian applications that involve life-threatening circumstances, and emphasized that only genuinely urgent licenses will be expedited.  The new license requirement may also apply if an export control license has already been issued.  According to the OFSI, an additional license may be required if the goods at issue will be exported directly or indirectly to a person or entity that is subject to financial sanctions, or the funds will be transferred from or through a person or entity that is subject to sanctions. 

OFSI – Sanctions Act License Guidance