The United Kingdom has in place a new global anti-corruption sanctions regime, and the government is wasting no time enforcing it, imposing its first wave of sanctions against 22 individuals Monday.

The new regime gives the United Kingdom “unprecedented power” to stop criminals profiting from the U.K. economy and exploiting citizens, the U.K. government said. Corrupt actors—particularly those involved in bribery and misappropriation—will no longer be able to channel dirty money through U.K. banks or enter the country, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab touted in a press release.

Also on Monday, the U.K. government published new guidance on how to implement and comply with its Global Anti-Corruption Sanctions Regulations 2021. The guidance covers the prohibitions and requirements imposed by the regulations and offers best practices for compliance, enforcement, and circumstances where the requirements do not apply.

The new regime follows the enactment of the U.K.’s global human rights sanctions regime in July 2020, which has since resulted in 78 sanctions against individuals and entities involved in serious human rights violations.

Sanctions announced

The United Kingdom imposed asset freezes and travel bans against 22 individuals “involved in some of the most notorious corruption cases around the world,” Raab said.

The sanctions specifically targeted:

  • Those involved in the diversion of $230 million of Russian state property through a fraudulent tax refund scheme uncovered by Sergei Magnitsky;
  • Ajay, Atul, and Rajesh Gupta and their associate Salim Essa for their roles in systemic political corruption in South Africa;
  • Sudanese businessman Ashraf Seed Ahmed Hussein Ali (“Al Cardinal”) for his involvement in the misappropriation of state assets in South Sudan; and
  • Several individuals involved in corruption in Latin America, including facilitating bribes to support drug trafficking and misappropriation.

“The measures are deliberately targeted, so the United Kingdom can impose sanctions on corrupt individuals and their enablers, rather than entire nations,” the U.K. government said. It added the designations partly relate to sanctions announced by the U.S. government on Monday against two individuals for their role in corruption in Guatemala.

“Corruption is corrosive to governance and is one of the greatest obstacles to global growth, economic stability, and poverty alleviation,” said U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen in a statement. “The United Kingdom’s new Global Anti-Corruption Sanctions Regime provides opportunities for the United States and the United Kingdom to take complementary sanctions actions where appropriate, magnifying the impact of our respective sanctions.”