Business Crime: Sanctions

Recent years have seen a striking expansion of international sanctions, with correspondingly increased risks for businesses in the face of European Union and United States commitments to enforce such regulations and investigate and prosecute breaches. 

Though governments are seeking to coordinate their respective sanctions programmes, European Union and United States proposals do not always sit in parallel.  These major jurisdictions consult closely on sanctions policy but there remain profound differences in the legal and regulatory regimes which implement sanctions measures.  Further, within the European Union, licensing decisions fall within the purview of national authorities, and prosecutorial jurisdiction is firmly a national matter.  It is essential that corporations and individuals based within or conducting business in the United Kingdom seek guidance on sanctions questions with an eye to UK-specific interpretations and procedures.

QEB Hollis Whiteman has considerable experience of both defending and prosecuting sanctions breach allegations and is therefore adept at advising on the avoidance of potential violations in the first instance.

We are able to advise at all stages, including internal investigations into suspected non-compliance, advice on compliance, pre-charge interviews and representation at court. We can also assist with any US and/or UK discussions on Deferred or Non-Prosecution Agreements.

In particular, we are experienced in the following matters:

  • Interpretation and scope of UK and international sanctions measures and other like regulations;
  • Application within the United Kingdom of international law;
  • Obtaining and using evidence from foreign jurisdictions;
  • The use of restraint and freezing orders including extra-jurisdictional measures;
  • Negotiations with domestic and foreign regulators and prosecutors.
We aim to ensure that organisations are able to operate effectively without breaching sanctions or like legislation. Should, however, a breach be suggested, we are accustomed to addressing commercially-sensitive allegations in an effective and discreet manner.

Notable cases:

Re J
Advised the Managing Director of a company in respect of a US/UK investigation in relation to alleged breaches of Iranian sanctions. No action taken
Jason Mansell

Re C
Advised an Iranian citizen resident in the UK who was being "cold shouldered" by financial institutions as a result of sanctions
Jason Mansell

R v Nik and Nik
Defended the Managing Director of a company charged with exporting dual use goods to Iran without a licence
Jason Mansell

R v Pouladian
Sanctions busting
John Hilton QC

R v Semsarilar
Successful defence of client charged with 'Sanctions Busting'
Tom Kark QC | Rachna Gokani

R v PD & EB
Major sanctions busting case collapses
William Boyce QC | Adrian Darbishire QC | Rachna Gokani

Mabey & Johnson Ltd
Corporate sanctions busting
Peter Finnigan QC

Iraqi Sanction-Busting Offence Invalid
Offence invalid
Adrian Darbishire QC | Rachna Gokani

Elmaghraby and El Gazaerly v Council
Former Egyptian minister and his wife take the EU Council to court over asset freeze.


Katherine Buckle warns that the ECJ decision in Anbouba raises significant concerns for those doing business in countries subject to sanctions
Risks of doing business in sanctioned countries. This article was first published on Lexis®PSL Public Law. 28.4.2015

For more information on crime-related matters, please contact the clerks on 020 7933 8855 or