The UK Office of Financial Sanctions Implementation (OFSI) Thursday published their most recent report on the UK’s financial sanctions, revealing that £18.39 billion worth of Russian assets have been frozen. This figure is a substantial increase from September 2021, when only £44.5 million in Russian funds were frozen.
The annual report, spanning from April 2021 to August 2022, set out the OFSI’s appraoch to financial sanctions, with a sharp focus on the sanctions imposed upon Russia following their invasion of Ukraine. OFSI director Giles Thomson labelled the invasion an “assault on the principles of freedom, democracy and peace,” forcing the UK to “put in place the most stringent financial sanctions in history”. The “unprecedented size, scale and complexity of these new sanctions” included the addition of 1,271 new designated persons to the consolidated list, who are now subject to financial sanctions. Following this, 33 new general licences were issued in connection with the Russian regime in order to help UK businesses function more easily throughout this “challenging period”. The OSFI also led the development of legislative amendments to the Policing and Crime Act 2017, and the Sanctions and Anti Money Laundering Act 2018, enhancing their power to enforce financial sanctions.
Plans for an “ambitous transformation programme” were also announced in the report:
We are scaling up to over 100 full-time employees by the end of 2022, accelerating and enhancing the ambitious transformation programme OFSI already had underway. We will enhance our service and engagement with those on the frontline of implementing sanctions; move from a reactive to a proactive compliance and enforcement model, underpinned by greater intelligence and information sharing; and increase our coordination and engagement with international partners on sanctions implementation.
These changes have “significantly intensified the demands on OFSI and will result in a permanent and profound transformation to the way it operates,” commented the Giles Thomson. The OFSI are confident that they will adapt to face the oncoming challenges posed by Russia’s continued invasion of Ukraine.