Belgium, (Brussels Morning Newspaper) The European Commission has proposed to criminalize breach of sanctions, stressing the importance of implementing restrictive measures against Russia.
The body also proposed new rules for seizing assets to ensure that property of companies and individuals who violate sanctions can be confiscated.
In a statement on Wednesday, the EC pointed out that proposed criminalisation of sanctions breach will “set a common basic standard on criminal offences and penalties across the EU.”
It added that proposed rules would make it easier for EU member states to investigate and prosecute those who violate sanctions.
The Commission pointed out that such violations require “a uniform response at EU level and global level” because they “may perpetuate threats to international peace and security.”
Potential crimes could include taking action that directly or indirectly bypasses sanctions, failing to seize funds and trading with entities covered by bans, the EC warned.
Věra Jourová, European Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality, stressed the importance of punishing those who try to circumvent EU sanctions.
“The violation of EU sanctions is a serious crime and must come with serious consequences,” she stated and added “we need EU-wide rules to establish that.”
Jourová concluded that “we must make those who keep Putin’s war machine running pay the price.”
Didier Reynders, European Commissioner for Justice, stated that violation of EU sanctions is a criminal offence and stressed the importance of holding transgressors to account.
Ylva Johansson, European Commissioner for Home Affairs, pointed out that the EC’s proposal grants EU Asset Recovery Offices (ARO) the authority to trace and freeze assets.
“Our proposal also goes after unexplained wealth… those at the top of criminal gangs will no longer be insulated from prosecution,” she announced and concluded “the criminalisation of sanctions violation mean that reaction time against rogue actors is much quicker.”
The EC pointed out that rules on violation of EU sanctions vary between member states and added that roughly 40 regimes of sanctions are currently in place.
“Member states are already required to introduce effective, proportionate and dissuasive penalties for violations of restrictive measures,” the body observed, but warned that “some member states use much broader definitions [while] others have more detailed provisions in place.”