UK’s HMRC imposes 10 fines for export control violations

The UK’s HM Revenue and Customs has today announced the imposition of 10 compound penalties in relation to failures to comply with the UK’s export control regulations for dual-use and military goods. The fines were imposed between March and November 2021.

HMRC’s Notice to Exporters can be found here.

In line with HMRC’s standard practice the compound penalties are anonymised and of low value, with little information made available. The information provided is supplied below.

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Germany – five being investigated in relation to export of gas turbines to Crimea

It is being reported today that the Hamburg Public Prosecutor’s Office is currently investigating five individuals in relation to the export from Germany to Crimea of gas turbines manufactured by Siemens.

The broader investigation into the export of these turbines has been ongoing since 2018. See our earlier post.

Four of the individuals being investigated are German nationals, three of whom worked for Siemens in Russia, and the fifth is a Swiss national.

Denmark – sentences and fines for breach of Syrian sanctions

Two Danish companies have been convicted of exporting 177,000 tonnes of jet fuel to Syria in breach of the EU’s sanctions.

In total some 33 transactions took place between 2015 and 2017, with the exports routed through Russian companies bound for Syria.

The company Dan-Bunkering was fined DKK 30 million ($4.6m), with a further DKK 15 million of unlawful profits confiscated.

The parent company Bunker Holding was fined DKK 4 million.

The Dan Bunkering CEO was also convicted and given a four-month custodial sentence , suspended pending a one year probation period.


Denmark – Danish regulator criticizes Danske Bank’s KYC failings

The Danish Financial Services Authority has today published its findings in relation to Danske Bank’s internal compliance function.

The findings included:

The Danish FSA finds that there is a risk that possible breaches of sanctions may not be detected by the bank’s sanctions screening because the bank does not have procedures in place for cooperation, including the exchange of information, between the units responsible for sanctions screening, customer due diligence data and transaction monitoring.

The Danish FSA also finds that there is a risk that possible breaches of sanctions may not be detected and escalated to the bank’s team of experts in the Sanctions & Embargo Team, who investigate possible breaches of sanctions, because the employees of the units of the bank who deal with customer due diligence data and transaction monitoring to prevent breaches of sanctions receive no training.

In addition, the Danish FSA finds that there is an increased risk of employee errors and abuse in the sanctions area because of matters relating to the bank’s internal controls in the sanctions area, including the fact that the four-eyes principle is not applied in connection with the screening of customers, the organisation of controls of manual processes for escalation as well as the organisational embedding of the Sanctions and Embargo Team in Group Compliance.

Netherlands – conviction for exports to Syria

The Rotterdam District Court has convicted a manager of a wholesale business of exports to Syria in breach of EU sanctions.

The export was of 128,000 litres of acetone, which is a product listed in Annex IX of the EU regulation.

The sentence was for a three month sentence suspended for 2 years and 180 hours of community service. This was lower than sought by the prosecution.

The company responsible for the exports was acquitted on the basis that the prosecution only commenced after it had already been wound up.

Norway – man charged with breaching Iran sanctions

It has been reported today that the Norwegian authorities have charged a German-Iranian national on suspicion of breaching UN sanctions (as implemented in Norway) against Iran.

The person is a professor at a technical university and is alleged to have invited four Iranian scientists to visit a laboratory in breach of Norway’s, and then permitted them access to technical data in breach of sanctions, export control laws, and data breach legislation.

Germany – arrest and raids over nuclear equipment exports to Iran

It has been reported today that the German authorities have conducted raids on 11 premises across Hamburg, Schleswig Holstein and North Rhine-Westphalia, and that one individual (named only as Alexander J) has been arrested on suspicion of the unlawful export of machinery and equipment to Iran in breach of the EU’s sanctions.

The products were alleged to have been destined for Iran’s nuclear and missile programs and to have been valued at over €1.1 million.

The Federal Prosecutor’s Office press release is here.

Germany – €11 million confiscation for unlicensed exports upheld on appeal

The German Federal Court of Justice has upheld the confiscation of €11 million imposed on Sig Sauer for unlicensed exports of small arms to Colombia.

See our earlier post, for the original fine from 2019.

The exports were made as part fulfilment of a contract by the US government to supply weapons to the Colombian police, but the necessary export licences were not obtained from the German authorities.

The judgment is available here.

UK: OFSI’s second penalty for the day – Russian sanctions

OFSI has today issued a second penalty for breach of the EU’s Russian sanctions, again using its civil enforcement powers.

The penalty notice is available here.

The penalty, of £36,393.45, was imposed on Clear Junction Limited. The transactions in this case are the same as those relating to TransferGo, although OFSI makes clear that it was Clear Junction which reported the transactions. It is noteworthy that some of the impugned transactions took place after the first report to OFSI.

OFSI’s notice also makes the point that the breach here was of the EU’s Russian sanctions, and that post-Brexit OFSI will continue to investigate breaches of the EU’s regulations that may have taken place before Brexit.

UK – OFSI imposes civil penalty for sanctions breaches

Today OFSI announced it had imposed a £50,000 financial penalty on TransferGo in the latest example of the use of its civil enforcement powers.

OFSI’s penalty notice is available here.

The fine was imposed in relation to 16 transactions over nearly 2 years valued at just £7,674.77 through which funds were made available Russian National Commercial Bank, which is a designated person under the EU’s Russian sanctions.

TransferGo did not self report but did cooperate with the investigation.

OFSI’s notice makes clear that the RNCB was not the intended beneficiary of the transactions, rather the recipients of the transfers were accounts held by non-designated persons with RNCB. OFSI has made clear that as funds held in bank accounts are legally held by the banks, that these transfers all amounted to making funds available to RNCB

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The opinions expressed on this blog are those of the author and are not to be construed as legal advice.

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