The European Commission is today putting forward a proposal to harmonise criminal offences and penalties for the violation of EU restrictive measures. While the Russian aggression on Ukraine is ongoing, it is paramount that EU restrictive measures are fully implemented and the violation of those measures does not pay off. The implementation of EU restrictive measures shows the complexity of identifying assets owned by oligarchs, who hide them across different jurisdictions through elaborate legal and financial structures. The Commission proposal will close existing legal loopholes and increase the deterrent effect of violating EU sanctions in the first place.
The proposal sets out common EU rules, which will make it easier to investigate, prosecute and punish violations of restrictive measures in all Member States alike. This means bypassing or attempting to bypass restrictive measures by concealing funds or concealing the fact that a person is the ultimate owner of funds will be a crime. Depending on the offence, the individual person could be liable to a maximum penalty of prison, starting at five years; companies could be liable to penalties of no less than 5% of the total worldwide turnover.