Generally speaking, French authorities have jurisdiction where a prohibited financial transaction is, at least partially, carried out within the territory of French Republic, i.e. where at least one of the constituent elements or acts of the offense was committed in France. Case law adopts an extensive approach to the concept of “constituent elements” covering both the actus reus and mens rea of the offence, as well as other factors such as preparatory acts, prerequisites or indivisible offences.
With respect to EU, UN or other international economic sanctions, Article 451 bis of the French Customs Code specifies that French authorities have jurisdiction over financial transactions carried out in France by, or on behalf of, individuals and/or entities that are covered by the corresponding EU, UN or international regulations.
In this regard, EU sanctions broadly apply to all EU nationals, including entities incorporated or constituted under the law of an EU member state, wherever in the world they are located. They also apply to all business conducted in whole or in part within EU territory.
Therefore, any and all violations of EU economic sanctions committed within the territory of the French Republic are punishable under French criminal law.
Alternatively, French courts can also, under limited circumstances, retain jurisdiction where, although the prohibited transaction was not carried out in France, (i) the perpetrator of the offense is a French individual or entity, or (ii) the victim of the office (if any) is a French individual or entity.