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EU Seeks United Front on Sanctions: Niall Hearty Explains

Author: Niall Hearty  13 June 2022

Politicians in Europe want to see a single set of penalties for evading EU-sanctions.

The European Commission has said that current fines that are imposed vary too wildly from country to country. The Commission, which is the EU’s law-making body, has proposed that member states should agree on the definition of criminal sanctions evasion and the penalties that the offence should carry.

According to the Commission, sanctions evasion has an “inherent cross-border dimension” that requires a “a common cross-border response”. It believes that if changes are not made, those who evade sanctions could receive inadequate punishment or none at all, especially if they operate in countries that take a less serious view of such conduct.

Věra Jourová, the Commission’s vice-president for values and transparency, said:

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.”

Evading EU sanctions is a criminal offence in all European countries apart from Spain and Slovakia. But the definition of what is sanctions evasion and the maximum corporate fines that can be imposed for it differ widely from country to country.

Each EU state is responsible for implementing and enforcing its own sanctions laws. This makes prosecutions more difficult in some countries than others and leads to an inconsistent approach across the EU.

Once a person or entity has been subject to EU financial sanctions, there is a legal obligation not to transfer funds or make funds or economic resources available, directly or indirectly, to them.

The current political climate appears to have prompted the calls to consolidate the approaches taken by individual EU countries into a common cross-border response. This would mean that the EU speaks as one and would ensure that member states are consistent in their approach to sanctions and, more importantly, their enforcement of any breaches of them.

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Niall Hearty


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Niall has a wealth of corporate crime expertise and an ability to coordinate global bribery and corruption cases. His achievements in such investigations have made him a logical choice for corporate clients.

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