Global anti-corruption sanctions: consideration of designations

This note aims to high­light fac­tors rel­e­vant to the con­sid­er­a­tion of des­ig­na­tions under the Global Anti-Corruption Sanctions Regulations 2021 (‘the Regulations’).

The Regulations per­mit a Minister to des­ig­nate a per­son only if the Minister has rea­son­able grounds to sus­pect that the per­son is an “involved per­son” in rela­tion to seri­ous cor­rup­tion, as set out in the Regulations[foot­note 1].

The Minister must also be sat­is­fied that the des­ig­na­tion is appro­pri­ate hav­ing regard to the pur­pos­es of pre­vent­ing and com­bat­ing seri­ous cor­rup­tion and the like­ly sig­nif­i­cant effects of the des­ig­na­tion on that per­son, as far as known.

Within the con­text of this statu­to­ry frame­work, in decid­ing whether a per­son should be con­sid­ered for des­ig­na­tion, the Government (HMG) will have regard to all rel­e­vant con­sid­er­a­tions. The fol­low­ing illus­tra­tive fac­tors are like­ly to be rel­e­vant, but this list is not exhaustive:

1. HMG’s anti-corruption policy priorities

HMG’s pol­i­cy focus in rela­tion to poten­tial des­ig­na­tions under this regime will be guid­ed by the long term out­comes set out in the UK’s Anti-Corruption Strategy. This Strategy recog­nis­es the dam­age that cor­rup­tion caus­es to coun­tries out­side the UK, espe­cial­ly to gov­er­nance, eco­nom­ic growth and devel­op­ment, as well as to the UK’s own nation­al secu­ri­ty and busi­ness interests.

Guided by these out­comes, HMG is like­ly to have par­tic­u­lar regard to seri­ous cor­rup­tion that:

  • enables or fuels nation­al and inter­na­tion­al secu­ri­ty threats
  • is linked to ter­ror­ism, seri­ous and organ­ised crime or insta­bil­i­ty over­seas, par­tic­u­lar­ly in frag­ile and con­flict-affect­ed states
  • under­mines devel­op­ment and pover­ty reduc­tion and the achieve­ment of the Sustainable Development Goals
  • impedes inter­na­tion­al trade and invest­ment or under­mines growth, includ­ing that which impacts direct­ly on UK business
  • under­mines a country’s demo­c­ra­t­ic gov­er­nance, the rule of law and human rights
  • weak­ens vital pub­lic insti­tu­tions includ­ing inter­na­tion­al organisations
  • exac­er­bates inequal­i­ty or deprives cit­i­zens of vital pub­lic resources, includ­ing nat­ur­al resources

HMG will be fur­ther guid­ed by its wider pri­or­i­ties for each indi­vid­ual coun­try, for exam­ple on devel­op­ment, trade or secu­ri­ty, and how seri­ous cor­rup­tion may affect these.

2. The scale, nature and impact of the serious corruption

The scale, nature and impact of the seri­ous cor­rup­tion, hav­ing regard to the above pol­i­cy areas, are like­ly to be rel­e­vant, includ­ing whether:

  • the con­duct is sys­temic, for exam­ple involv­ing senior offi­cials or polit­i­cal fig­ures with broad pow­ers and responsibilities
  • the finan­cial val­ue of the bribe(s) or assets divert­ed or the ben­e­fit derived are sig­nif­i­cant rel­a­tive to the local context
  • the con­duct is sophis­ti­cat­ed and/or sys­tem­at­ic, requir­ing a degree of plan­ning, mul­ti­ple involved actors and the use of advanced meth­ods to hide the cor­rup­tion and involve­ment in it, poten­tial­ly over a long peri­od of time
  • the cor­rup­tion involves actors from out­side the coun­try in ques­tion, rep­re­sent­ing an exter­nal threat to the coun­try or coun­tries affected

3. The status, connections and activities of the involved person

In cir­cum­stances where there are a range of per­sons who could be con­sid­ered for des­ig­na­tion by virtue of their involve­ment in the seri­ous cor­rup­tion, HMG is like­ly to con­sid­er which designation(s) would have most impact in pre­vent­ing or com­bat­ing seri­ous cor­rup­tion. This may involve con­sid­er­ing, for exam­ple, the posi­tion of the per­son in the hier­ar­chy of an organ­i­sa­tion, and whether the per­son has par­tic­u­lar links to the UK, includ­ing whether such per­sons would be par­tic­u­lar­ly affect­ed by trav­el or finan­cial restric­tions under the Regulations. HMG is also like­ly to con­sid­er whether involved per­sons have appro­pri­ate­ly raised sus­pi­cions or con­cerns with law enforce­ment agen­cies or oth­er appro­pri­ate author­i­ties, or oth­er­wise tak­en rea­son­able steps to avoid unin­ten­tion­al­ly becom­ing involved at the time or to enable reme­di­al or law enforce­ment action since.

4. Collective international action

HMG is like­ly to give par­tic­u­lar con­sid­er­a­tion to cas­es where inter­na­tion­al part­ners have adopt­ed, or pro­pose to adopt, sanc­tions and where action by the UK is like­ly to increase the effect of the des­ig­na­tion in address­ing the cor­rup­tion in question.

5. Interaction with law enforcement activities

HMG will not auto­mat­i­cal­ly rule out des­ig­na­tion due to a pos­si­bil­i­ty of law enforce­ment action. However, HMG is like­ly to give par­tic­u­lar atten­tion to cas­es where the rel­e­vant jurisdiction’s law enforce­ment author­i­ties have been unable or unwill­ing to hold those per­sons involved in acts of seri­ous cor­rup­tion to account. Involvement in cor­rup­tion falling with­in the UK’s juris­dic­tion would nor­mal­ly be addressed through UK law enforce­ment mea­sures. However, there may be excep­tion­al cas­es where HMG will con­sid­er des­ig­nat­ing per­sons in cas­es where there may be UK juris­dic­tion, but UK law enforce­ment bod­ies are unable to pur­sue a case against those per­sons or their prop­er­ty, for exam­ple because a per­son is out­side the UK and a for­eign Government does not pro­vide nec­es­sary cooperation.

6. Risk of reprisals

HMG is like­ly to give par­tic­u­lar atten­tion to any poten­tial neg­a­tive impact a des­ig­na­tion may have, such as any poten­tial reprisals or phys­i­cal or men­tal harm to jour­nal­ists, civ­il soci­ety organ­i­sa­tions, human rights defend­ers or whistle-blowers.

PDF file

  1. See reg­u­la­tions 4 and 6 of the Regulations for full details. “Involved per­sons” include those who: are respon­si­ble for seri­ous cor­rup­tion, or engage in it; facil­i­tate or pro­vide sup­port for it; prof­it finan­cial­ly or obtain any oth­er ben­e­fit from it; con­ceal or dis­guise it or any prof­it or pro­ceeds from it; trans­fer or con­vert any prof­it or pro­ceeds from it; inter­fere in any process of jus­tice or account­abil­i­ty in con­nec­tion with it; or con­tra­vene, or assist with the con­tra­ven­tion of, cer­tain pro­vi­sions in the Regulations. ↩