On 12 December 2023, the Council of the EU published a press release which states that, on the basis of the European Commission’s proposal published in December 2022, the European Parliament and the Council reached a political agreement on a Directive to introduce criminal offences and penalties for the violation of EU sanctions.
The initial Commission proposal said that the Directive applies to violations of EU restrictive measures and in the initial proposal they covered, among others, measures regarding the freezing of funds and economic resources, as well as prohibitions on making funds and economic resources available, while the definition of funds in the Commission’s initial proposal included, among others, crypto-assets. The initial definition of ‘freezing of funds’ referred to the prevention of any move, transfer, alteration, use of, access to, or dealing with funds in any way that would result in any change in their volume, amount, location, ownership, possession, character, destination or any other change that would enable the funds to be used, including portfolio management. Under the initial Commission proposal, violations of an EU restrictive order included, among others, providing financial activities that are prohibited or restricted by EU restrictive measures like, among others, providing crypto-assets and wallets. The Commission’s initial proposal also contained provisions on criminal penalties for natural persons, on liability of legal persons, on penalties for legal persons and on freezing and confiscation.
As of 12 December 2023, the text of the political agreement by the co-legislators is not yet publicly available.
The provisional agreement will now require the endorsement of Member States’ representatives (Committee of Permanent Representatives – Coreper) in order to then be formally adopted by the Council and the European Parliament.