How are Australian autonomous sanctions implemented?
Autonomous sanctions applying controls on trade in goods and services and financial restrictions against persons and entities designated by the Minister for Foreign Affairs are implemented under the Autonomous Sanctions Act 2011 and the Autonomous Sanctions Regulations 2011. Depending upon their terms, these controls apply to:
- any person in Australia;
- any Australian anywhere in the world;
- companies incorporated overseas that are owned or controlled by Australians or persons in Australia;
- any person using an Australian flag vessel or aircraft to transport goods or transact services subject to Australian autonomous sanctions.
The Customs Act 1901 and regulations made under that Act are also used to implement controls specifically on the trade in goods from Australia. Exports of sanctioned goods from Australia are controlled by the Customs (Prohibited Exports) Regulations 1958.
Finally, the Migration Act 1958 is used to implement travel bans and restrictions applied to persons, or classes of persons, designated by the Minister for Foreign Affairs. The authority to refuse a visa to, or cancel the visa of, an individual subject to Australian autonomous travel bans is provided in the Migration Regulations 1994.
How are Australian autonomous sanctions enforced?
Breaches of controls on trade in sanctioned goods and services, or dealings with sanctions-designated individuals and entities, are serious criminal offences under the Autonomous Sanctions Act 2011. These offences are:
- the contravention of any law designated by the Minister for Foreign Affairs as a sanction law in the Autonomous Sanctions (Sanction Law) Declaration 2012 (Autonomous Sanctions Act, section 6)
- This covers controls on the trade in sanctioned goods and services established under the Autonomous Sanctions Regulations 2011 implementing country-specific sanctions regimes.
- It also includes financial sanctions prohibiting the unauthorised use or dealing with the assets of, or making assets available to, persons and entities designated by the Minister for Foreign Affairs under the Autonomous Sanctions Regulations 2011;
For bodies corporate, each of the above offences are of strict liability, unless the body corporate can prove that it took reasonable precautions, and exercised due diligence, to avoid contravening the law in question.
The penalty upon conviction for these offences is
- for individuals: a maximum 10 years' imprisonment or a maximum fine the greater of 3 times the value of the transaction in breach of sanctions (if this can be calculated) or A$275,000.
- for bodies corporate: a maximum fine the greater of 3 times the value of the transaction in breach of sanctions (if this can be calculated) or A$1.1 million.
Offences for false or misleading conduct in relation to Australia's sanction laws
There are also penalties for false or misleading conduct in the context of the administration of Australian sanction laws.
Under the Autonomous Sanctions Act 2011 (section 17), it is an offence to give information or a document to a Commonwealth entity, in connection with the administration of a sanction law, that is false or misleading in a material particular, either by virtue of the inclusion or exclusion of material in the information or document. The penalty for this offence is 10 years' imprisonment or a fine of A$275,000, or both.