2018 was another busy year for OFSI as we continued to make sure financial sanctions are properly understood and enforced. The last 12 calendar months saw OFSI attend over 90 meetings and events which have taken place in the UK and overseas with both the public and private sectors. That averages out at nearly two a week!
These events have ranged from targeted roundtables, regular meetings with industry working groups and associations and conferences of anything from 50 to 500 attendees. We spoke a lot about Brexit, and how financial sanctions will continue uninterrupted, whether there is a deal or not. We have also talked about compliance and how we respond proportionately to breaches, and we spoke about the regimes which featured heavily in the news – Iran, North Korea and Russia among others.
We continued our focus on key sanctions stakeholders in the private sector – financial institutions, law firms, regulators, professional services and not-for-profit organisations. These sectors have the most exposure to financial sanctions, but they also help us to enforce them. Banks are able to freeze assets and prevent their release to sanctioned entities. Professional services report information about suspected breaches or designated persons, while insurance firms withhold services from sanctioned vessels. All these sectors working together help to ensure financial sanctions are robust and effective in achieving their objectives.
The objectives of the various sanctions regimes are diverse, and can range from preventing human rights abuses, preventing terrorist financing and counter proliferation to the violation of national sovereignty and the misappropriation of assets. But, by enforcing sanctions effectively, we signal our disapproval of these activities and aim to either constrain malign behaviour or coerce a change in conduct.
The Chancellor Phillip Hammond increased OFSI’s resources in April last year, and part of that increase has gone towards our international engagement. Look out for our blog next month when we will talk more about our international outreach and future plans.
OFSI continues its aim to increase outreach beyond its key stakeholders in to 2019, raising awareness of financial sanctions in areas which have less understanding of them. We will keep you informed about any changes to legislation and updates to regimes both on our web pages and through our e-alerts, which you can subscribe to here. If you’d like us to speak at an event then let us know.