In the US, OFAC has a variety of enforcement options available to it upon learning of a potential violation of US sanctions.  In cases where OFAC determines that there is insufficient evidence of a violation, but that the activity in question could lead to a violation, OFAC may issue a Cautionary Letter.  If OFAC determines that a violation has occurred but that a civil monetary penalty is not appropriate, OFAC may issue a Finding of Violation.  OFAC may also impose a civil monetary penalty on determining that a violation has occurred.  OFAC publishes guidance on a Finding of Violation, civil monetary penalties, and criminal prosecution, available here.  Finally, OFAC may refer the case to appropriate law enforcement if it determines that the activity warrants a criminal investigation and/or prosecution. 

In the UK, the Policing and Crime Act 2017 provides that sanctions violations are some of the offenses eligible for deferred prosecution agreements (DPAs).  

For more on potential outcomes of criminal enforcement in the US and UK, see here.

In France, the DPA-like procedure (called Judicial Convention of Public Interest or “CJIP”) is not available for violations of economic sanctions.

The plea bargaining procedure (called Appearance in Court Following Prior Guilty Plea or “CRPC”) is applicable, thus allowing offenders (whether individuals or legal entities) to enter into a plea bargain with the Public Prosecutor.  In cases, with judicial approval, the offender does not face trial, but instead may be subject to: (i) a fine not to exceed the fine amount provided by Article 459 of the Customs Code, (ii) imprisonment for a term not to exceed 1 year, and (iii) ancillary sanctions provided by law for the violation of economic sanctions.  This procedure however requires the defendant to admit guilt.

In Italy, it is possible for individuals and legal entities having committed violations of a criminal nature to enter into a plea bargain agreement with the Public Prosecutor (“applicazione della pena su richiesta”) in cases where the applicable criminal penalty, to be determined on the basis of the specific circumstances of the case, is a monetary fine or imprisonment for no more than 5 years. This proceeding entails that the defendant, in agreement with the Public Prosecutor, although not admitting guilt, accepts the punishment, at the same time requesting the judge to impose a sanction reduced by up to 1/3 compared to the one provided for by law for that criminal offence.

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