The penalty, for which Telia requested and received a Ministerial review, was for repeated facilitation of international phone calls to a sanctioned Syrian entity (SyriaTel) “over an extended period of time.” When the review was performed, Telia provided additional detail which reduced the value of the violations by more than 50% (from £480,000 to £234,000). OFSI’s original assessment of £300,000 was appropriate, but reduced it to the final amount based on the additional information. Telia was entitled to appeal the decision to the Upper Tribunal, but chose not to.
OFSI added a “lessons learned” to this case:
This case illustrates that ‘economic resources’ can cover a wide variety of tangible and intangible resources and can be provided directly and/or indirectly. It also illustrates that companies need to be able to recognize when they are in breach of the regulations and take immediate action to stop their activity and report it to OFSI.
Again, there is very little detail here in how these violations came about, about the actual knowledge of or involvement of management, the quality of Telia’s compliance program, or any of the other factors considered by OFSI and documented in their enforcement guidance.
The one saving grace, of course, is that penalty is much more proportional than that doled out to Raphaels Bank and Travelex earlier this year. By the way, there is no discussion of how the £300,000 penalty was determined, or whether there was any “base penalty” calculated as in the earlier cases.
So, a step forward for OFSI, but they can still do better….