UK anti-corruption sanctions

In April 2021, the United Kingdom adopted the Global Anti-Corruption Sanctions Regulations – a similar piece of legislation to the US Global Magnitsky Act – allowing it to sanction people implicated in serious cases of corruption. The sanctions impose asset freezes and travel bans for individuals, companies, or organisations believed to have been involved in serious corruption with regards to bribery and the misappropriation of funds (through supporting, concealing, benefitting from, or failing to properly investigate serious corruption). In 2020, the UK had adopted a separate global human rights sanctions regime focused on human rights violations.

  • As of January 2024, there were 39 people sanctioned for corruption by the UK under this law. From these, 22 individuals allegedly involved in notorious corruption cases in Russia, South Africa, South Sudan, and throughout Latin America were sanctioned in April 2021. 5 individuals believed to be involved in serious corruption in Equatorial Guinea, Zimbabwe, Venezuela and Iraq were sanctioned in July 2021. The last five individuals suspected of corruption in Moldova, Serbia and Kosovo were added in December 2022. Additional 3 Bulgarian individuals were sanctioned in February 2023 and 4 individuals linked to corruption in Lebanon later in the year.

After Brexit, the UK had to establish its own independent sanctions regimes. In the process, it discontinued the EU misappropriation sanctions regime. Instead, the UK replaced the EU misappropriation sanctions with the new global anti-corruption regime and chose to put some of the individuals previously sanctioned under the EU regime on national sanctions lists. Out of eight people listed by the EU under the Ukraine misappropriation regime, six were sanctioned by the UK in 2021, albeit for reasons not linked to possible misappropriation. Three people (Oleksandr Yanukovych, Viktor Yanukovych, and Serhiy Kurchenko) were listed under Russia sanctions regime for reasons related to the Crimea conflict. Three others are sanctioned under the new Global Human Rights Sanctions regime (Viktor Pshonka, Viktor Ratushniak, Vitalii Zakharchenko).

UK legal acts & useful links