Author
Stephanie High

Stephanie High

Senior associate

Read More
Author
Stephanie High

Stephanie High

Senior associate

Read More

21 April 2020

Disputes Quick Read – 11 of 23 Insights

Disputes Quick Read: UK's OFSI fines Standard Chartered Bank £20 million for sanctions breaches

  • QUICK READ

The Office of Financial Sanctions Implementation (OFSI) has announced its first substantial monetary penalty, fining Standard Chartered Bank (SCB) £20.47 million for breaches of sectoral sanctions regulations. The breaches related to loans to a Turkish bank, Denizbank, which was majority owned by Russia's Sberbank and subject to EU and UK sanctions.

The level of the penalty is a first for OFSI, and we expect to see more significant enforcement action from the sanctions regulator, which was granted authority to impose substantial civil financial penalties for sanctions violations in 2017. OFSI had initially sought to fine SCB £31.5 million, but that was reduced following a ministerial review.

The fine related to 21 loans worth almost £100 million issued between April 2017 and January 2018. Following his review of OFSI's decision, the Minister of the Crown agreed with OFSI that these breaches were 'most serious' breaches of financial sanctions.

However, he considered that OFSI had not given enough weight to the fact that SCB had:

  • not wilfully breached the sanctions regime
  • acted in good faith
  • intended to comply with the relevant restrictions
  • fully co-operated with OFSI, and
  • taken remedial steps following the breach.

SCB achieved a further discount through voluntary disclosure to OFSI. SCB disclosed its suspected breaches to OFSI at the offset, before carrying out an internal investigation which resulted in a detailed report being provided to OFSI, as well as interim updates along the way.

In light of this, OFSI awarded SCB the maximum penalty reduction of 30% for 'most serious' cases. Given SCB would likely have had to report the breaches to OFSI in any case, it was worthwhile being up front with the regulator and keeping them updated, which allowed SCB to achieve the maximum benefit for cooperation.

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Disputes Quick Read: Tomlin Orders – ensuring the confidentiality of settlement terms

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Disputes quick read: climate change activism by litigation

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Disputes quick read: pilot error?

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