European Commission proposes criminalisation of EU sanctions violations

The European Commission said on May 25 that it put forth a proposals to “add the violation of EU restrictive measures to the list of EU crimes,” as well as new reinforced rules on asset recovery and confiscation, which will also contribute to the implementation of EU sanctions.

“While the Russian aggression on Ukraine is ongoing, it is paramount that EU restrictive measures are fully implemented and the violation of those measures must not be allowed to pay off,” the Commission said in a statement.

“Today’s proposals aim to ensure that the assets of individuals and entities that violate the restrictive measures can be effectively confiscated in the future.”

Sanctions violations were already a criminal offense in a majority of EU member states and had a clear cross-border context, which required a uniform response at EU level and global level, the Commission said.

The potential criminal offences could include engaging in actions or activities that seek to directly or indirectly circumvent the restrictive measures, including by concealing assets; failing to freeze funds belonging to, held or controlled by a designated person/entity; or engaging in trade, such as importing or exporting goods covered by trade bans.

Once the EU member states agree on the Commission’s initiative to extend the list of EU crimes, the Commission said that it would present a legislative proposal for a new EU directive.

A separate directive on asset recovery and confiscation would update EU rules on asset recovery to extend the mandate of asset recovery offices to swiftly trace and identify assets of individuals and entities subject to EU sanctions, expand the possibilities to confiscate assets from a wider set of crimes, as well as set up asset management offices in all EU member states to ensure that frozen property does not lose value.

“EU sanctions must be respected and those trying to go around them punished. The violation of EU sanctions is a serious crime and must come with serious consequences. We need EU-wide rules to establish that. As a Union we stand up for our values and we must make those who keep Putin’s war machine running pay the price,” Commission vice-president Věra Jourová said.

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The Sofia Globe staff

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