Sanctions are a tool used by countries or international organisations to achieve foreign policy or national security objectives. They are measures that restrict or prohibit economic activity with certain individuals, entities, or countries for political or security reasons. Sanctions can take different forms, including trade restrictions, asset freezes, travel bans, and financial penalties. The United Nations, the European Union, and the United States are among the most active sanctioning authorities.
Sanctions can be targeted or comprehensive. Targeted sanctions apply to specific individuals, entities, or goods associated with a particular activity or regime. Comprehensive sanctions, on the other hand, impose a complete ban on trade and other economic activities with a country. Sanctions can have significant economic and political consequences for both the targeted countries and the countries imposing the sanctions.
For financial services organisations, compliance with sanctions is essential to avoid legal and reputational risks. Sanctions compliance programs include policies, procedures, and controls to identify and screen potential customers and counterparties against sanctioned individuals and entities. Organisations must also ensure that they do not facilitate prohibited transactions and report any suspicious activity (SARs) to relevant authorities.
Sanctions can change frequently, and compliance requirements can be complex and challenging to navigate. Therefore, financial services organisations must have robust compliance programs and stay informed about the latest sanctions developments. Failing to comply with sanctions can result in severe consequences, including fines, penalties, and damage to the organisation's reputation.