My client is a possible sanctions match. What should I do?

I’ve been instructed to act in a transaction where the client comes up as a possible sanctions match. How should I proceed?

You should review all the client identity information you hold against the sanctions list, to make sure you do not have a false-positive identification.

You may also ask your client for more identity information to help confirm or rule out whether there's an accurate match.

The Office of Financial Sanctions Implementation (OFSI) issues a consolidated list of all persons and entities that are subject to sanctions which are effective in the UK.

Search OFSI’s financial sanctions targets

You may find that the name of an individual or entity you’re dealing with matches one or more entries on the consolidated list.

However, it does not necessarily mean that the individual or entity you're dealing with is the same one on the list.

If you’re satisfied that this is the case, you do not need to take further action.

If the individual or entity you’re dealing with matches all the information on the consolidated list, this is likely to be a target match.

Where there’s a positive match, you must suspend the transaction and report the matter to either your:

  • money laundering reporting officer (MLRO) or
  • money laundering compliance officer (MLCO)

Solicitors have an obligation to report sanctions-related information to OFSI. Not doing so is a criminal offence, which may result in criminal prosecution or a monetary penalty.

OFSI has the power to grant licences exempting certain transactions from the financial restrictions.

Requests are considered on a case-by-case basis, to ensure that there's no risk of funds being diverted to terrorism.

If, having consulted the consolidated list, you’re still unsure on whether you have a target match, contact OFSI for assistance.


General enquiries: 020 7270 5454

You should also consider whether you have a suspicion of money laundering or terrorist financing which requires a report to the National Crime Agency.


While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information in this article, it does not constitute legal advice and cannot be relied upon as such. The Law Society does not accept any responsibility for liabilities arising as a result of reliance upon the information given.

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Call the Practice Advice Service on 020 7320 5675 or email

The Practice Advice Service is staffed Monday to Friday from 9am to 5pm.

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