The European Parliamentary Research Service (EPRS) has published a briefing note on the proposed directive on the definition of criminal offences and penalties for violations of EU sanctions. The briefing note outlines the scope of the offences covered by the proposed directive, the proposed criminal penalties, and the proposal that when funds are transferred to conceal the violation of EU sanctions, the funds would be considered the proceeds of crime and therefore Member States would be able to confiscate the funds.

Scope of the Offences

The proposed directive would cover a wide range of offences related to violations of EU sanctions, including:

1.       Direct violations of EU sanctions, such as providing financial or material support to a designated person or entity or engaging in prohibited trade with a sanctioned country or region.

2.       Conduct intended to circumvent EU sanctions, such as using false or misleading information to obtain a sanction license or setting up shell companies to obscure the true ownership of assets.

3.       Breaching conditions under EU sanctions licenses, such as failing to report suspicious transactions or engaging in prohibited activities with a designated person or entity.

Proposed Criminal Penalties

The proposed directive would establish minimum criminal penalties for violations of EU sanctions. The penalties would vary depending on the severity of the offence, with more serious offences carrying higher penalties. For example, the proposed directive would set a minimum penalty of one year's imprisonment for conduct intended to circumvent EU sanctions, and a minimum penalty of five years' imprisonment for direct violations of EU sanctions.

Confiscation of Proceeds of Crime

The proposed directive would also allow Member States to confiscate funds that are transferred to conceal the violation of EU sanctions. This would be in line with the EU's general approach to confiscation of the proceeds of crime. The proposed directive would also set out several safeguards to ensure that funds are only confiscated in cases where there is clear evidence that they were used to conceal a violation of EU sanctions.

Next Steps

The proposed directive is currently being negotiated by the European Parliament and the Council of the European Union. It is expected to be adopted in the coming months. Once adopted, the proposed directive will be binding on all Member States.

The proposed directive is an important step in the fight against violations of EU sanctions. The directive will provide a clear and consistent legal framework for Member States to prosecute and punish those who violate EU sanctions. The directive will also help to deter violations of EU sanctions and protect the EU's interests.