EU introduces criminal liability for violation of sanctions

EU introduces criminal liability for violation of sanctions (Getty Images) © RBC-Ukraine (CA)

The European Council has officially approved the directive on pan-European minimum rules for prosecuting violations or circumventions of EU sanctions in member states, according to the Council’s announcement.

The directive stipulates that member states must classify certain actions as criminal offenses. These include:

aiding individuals subject to EU restrictive measures in circumventing travel bans,

・trading in sanctioned goods and conducting deals with states or organizations subject to EU restrictive measures,

・providing financial services or engaging in financial activities that are prohibited or restricted,

・concealing ownership of funds or economic resources by individuals, legal entities, or bodies subject to EU sanctions.

Assistance and incitement to these crimes will also be punishable offenses.

The trade of military materials will be considered a criminal offense if done intentionally or through serious negligence.

Provisions of the directive

Member states must ensure that violations of EU sanctions are punished with effective and proportionate criminal penalties, varying depending on the offense. However, intentional violations of sanctions should result in imprisonment as the maximum punishment. Violators of EU restrictive measures may also face additional fines.

Legal entities (i.e., companies) may also be held accountable if the crime is committed by an individual holding a managerial position within the organization. In such cases, sanctions may include disqualification from entrepreneurial activities and the revocation of permits and licenses for conducting economic activities.

The directive will come into force on the twentieth day following its publication in the Official Journal of the EU. Member states have twelve months to incorporate the directive’s provisions into their national legislation.

In December of 2023, the EU Council and the European Parliament concluded negotiations on an EU law introducing criminal offenses and penalties for violations of EU sanctions. This directive ensures that those who violate or circumvent EU sanctions will be held accountable. This is of particular significance amid Russia’s aggressive war against Ukraine.

Source: RBC Ukraine