Sanctions: What are they and why should you care?

20 April 2022 10:30


Today’s headlines are full of news about current and evolving sanctions – but what are they and how could they affect your organization?

What is a sanction?

sanction is a political or economic measure often implemented by governments and international bodies to influence the behavior of a regime, group, or individual. These can include actions like travel bans, asset freezes, import/export restrictions, and more. They’re meant to protect national security and a country’s economy.

Sanctions are typically targeted against individuals or groups known to be engaging in illegal or threatening behavior. These targets include:

  • Counter Narcotics Trafficking
  • Counter Terrorism
  • Cyber Crime
  • Foreign Interference in Elections
  • Human Rights Abuses

A financial sanction prohibits transactions and, sometimes, any financial services involving the targeted entity.

Who creates sanctions?

Some of the most common authorities in the matter include:

  • The UN Security Council
  • The European Union
  • The UK Parliament
  • The US President
  • The US Secretary of the Treasury

The list of sanctions grows every day, and the different ruling bodies don’t always agree. This makes it more complex than ever to manage sanctions risk.

Who should screen for sanctions?

All businesses in all industries must comply with sanctions screening requirements. In the past, the financial services sector has experienced more enforcement, but other sectors – like charities and non-governmental organizations – have started to see penalties and gain attention.


With this clear trend of enforcement against organizations outside traditional banking and finance sectors, any company that conducts business across borders needs to have a rigorous sanctions risk mitigation strategy process in place.

How do sanctions screenings work?

Sanctions screening involves screening individuals, groups, or companies against customized sanction lists according to the territories where your organization trades, the currencies they trade in, and their partnerships and alliances.

This may include manually putting a name into an online search tool, checking a customer database for any sanctions alerts, or automatically screening customer and stakeholder databases regularly.

Nexis® Solutions can streamline this process – helping your organization make confident and compliant decisions. Learn how we can help you mitigate risk as it emerges and evolves. Download  the factsheet!

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