Autonomous financial sanctions: Transition of regulatory responsibility

Media release from the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade

7 March 2012

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade is now responsible for the implementation and administration of Australia's autonomous targeted financial sanctions.

Targeted financial sanctions are a key aspect of Australia's autonomous sanctions regime. Australia is one of a number of countries which seeks positive change around the world by applying autonomous sanctions to supplement United Nations Security Council sanctions and stepping in when the Security Council is unable to act.

Australia currently implements autonomous financial sanctions targeting situations of concern in Burma, Syria and Zimbabwe, and supplementing United Nations Security Council financial sanctions in relation to the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Iran and Libya. Australia has also implemented autonomous financial sanctions against individuals associated with the former Milosevic regime in the former Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.

Until today, Australia's autonomous financial sanctions have been implemented and administered by the Reserve Bank of Australia under the Banking (Foreign Exchange) Regulations 1959 on behalf of the Australian Government.

With the commencement of the Autonomous Sanctions Regulations 2011 on 15 December 2011, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and the Reserve Bank of Australia have been working to transition Australia's targeted financial sanctions from the Banking (Foreign Exchange) Regulations 1959 to the Autonomous Sanctions Regulations 2011.

This transition has been completed today with the listing, under the Autonomous Sanctions Regulations 2011, of all individuals and entities designated for targeted financial sanctions and persons declared for travel bans.

Under the Autonomous Sanctions Regulations 2011, any person holding assets owned or controlled by designated persons or entities must freeze these assets (in other words they are prohibited from using or dealing with these assets without authorisation).

In addition it is prohibited to directly or indirectly make an asset available to, or for the benefit of, a designated person or entity without authorisation.

A financial institution or asset holder uncertain as to whether the sanctions apply to a particular asset or transaction may request assistance in writing to asset.freezing@dfat.gov.au

Applications for an authorised transaction can be made on the Online Sanctions Administration System (OSAS) at https://sanctions.dfat.gov.au

A detailed list of Australia's current autonomous sanctions is available at: www.dfat.gov.au/un/unsc_sanctions/autonomous_sanctions_measures.html

The Reserve Bank of Australia has today also published a media release regarding the handover of responsibility for Australia's autonomous financial sanctions to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.