1. Does Australia have a sanctions regime in place?
Yes. Australian sanction laws are enacted by the federal parliament, and have broad jurisdictional application, extending to activities in Australia, and also to activities by Australian citizens and Australian registered corporate bodies overseas. Australia implements two types of sanctions:
- United Nations Security Council (UNSC) sanctions, which Australia must impose as a member of the UN; and
- Australian autonomous sanctions, which are imposed as a matter of Australian foreign policy.
2. Does Australia implement UN sanctions?
Yes. UN sanctions regimes are primarily implemented under the Charter of the United Nations Act 1945 (the “United Nations Act”) and its set of corresponding regulations. There is a separate set of regulations under the United Nations Act for each UN sanctions regime.
3. Does Australia implement an autonomous sanctions regime?
Yes. Australian autonomous sanctions regimes are primarily implemented under the Autonomous Sanctions Act 2011 (Cth) (the “Autonomous Act”) and the corresponding Autonomous Sanctions Regulations 2011 (Cth).
4. What is the nature of the sanctions regime in Australia?
Each sanctions regime imposes sanction measures depending on the individual circumstances and objectives of the regime. Sanctions measures can include:
- restrictions on trade in goods and services,
- restrictions on engaging in commercial activities,
- targeted financial sanctions (including asset freezes) on designated persons and entities; and
- travel bans on certain persons.
5. Does Australia maintain a list of sanctioned individuals and entities?
Yes. The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (“DFAT”) maintains a consolidated list of all persons and entities who are subject to targeted financial sanctions under Australian sanctions law (Consolidated List). Those listed may be Australian citizens, foreign nationals or residents in Australia or overseas.
6. Are there any other lists related to sanctions?
Yes. While this is not a formal sanctions measure, the Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorism Financing Regulations 2016 imposes enhanced customer due diligence requirements for reporting entities in Australia which carry out financial transactions with persons or corporations in in high-risk countries or regions. Countries and regions may be considered high risk if they are one or more of the following:
• deemed a high risk or non-cooperative jurisdiction by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), • prescribed foreign countries (Iran and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea), • subject to sanctions, • known tax havens; and/or • known to provide support to terrorist organisations.
7. Does Australia have a licensing or authorization system in place?
Yes. In some circumstances, it may be possible to obtain a sanctions permit to allow an activity related to a person or entity on the Consolidated List that would otherwise be prohibited by an Australian sanctions law. If a sanctions permit is granted, conditions may be attached to that permit. Different sanctions regimes impose different criteria for the grant of a permit. Applications for permits can be made online through the Australian sanctions portal Pax.
8. What are the consequences for a breach of sanctions in Australia?
Contravening sanctions measures or sanctions permits With regards to individuals, these offenses are punishable by up to ten years in prison and/or a fine, the greater of 2,500 penalty units (A$555,000 as of 1 July 2020) or three times the value of the transaction. With regards to bodies corporate, these offenses are punishable by a fine the greater of 10,000 penalty units (A$2.22 million as of 1 July 2020), or three times the value of the transaction.
These are strict liability offenses for bodies corporate, meaning that it is not necessary to prove any fault element (intent, knowledge, recklessness or negligence) in order to be found guilty.
Giving false or misleading information Australian sanctions laws establish serious criminal offenses for giving false or misleading information in connection with the administration of a sanction law. Giving false or misleading information is punishable by up to ten years in prison and/or a fine of 2,500 penalty units (A$555,000 as of 1 July 2020).
A sanctions permit is taken never to have been granted if false or misleading information was contained in the application for the permit.
9. Who are the relevant regulators in Australia and what are their contacts?
The Australian Sanctions Office (ASO) is the Australian Government's sanctions regulator. The ASO sits within the Department of Trade and Foreign Affairs' (DFAT) legal division in the International Humanitarian and Consular Group. Applications for sanctions permits may be submitted online through the Australian sanctions platform, Pax, which is accessible at https://pax.dfat.gov.au/sncPortal/s/. ASO requests that Pax be used rather than email or mail for contact in relation to requests for indicative assessments or sanctions permit applications. There is also a 'Contact Us' form on Pax to ask a general question without being a registered Pax user. To contact ASO by post, mail can be sent to: Director Australian Sanctions Office RG Casey Building John McEwan Crescent Barton ACT 0221 AUSTRALIA
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