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  • President Trump issues Executive Order delegating sanctions implementation authority; OFAC issues new CAATSA- Russia-related FAQ

    Financial Crimes

    On September 20, President Trump announced the issuance of Executive Order 13849 (E.O. 13849), “Authorizing the Implementation of Certain Sanctions Set Forth in the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA),” pursuant to national emergencies previously declared in Executive Orders 13660, 13694, and 13757. E.O. 13849 grants authority to the Secretary of the Treasury to take certain actions to implement the sanctions against identified persons, including the promulgation of regulations. Among other things, E.O. 13849 prohibits: (i) any U.S. financial institution from making loans or extending credits to sanctioned persons “totaling more than $10,000,000 in any 12-month period, unless the person is engaged in activities to relieve human suffering and the loans or credits are provided for such activities”; (ii) any foreign exchange transactions, subject to U.S. jurisdiction, in which the sanctioned person has any interest; and (iii) transfers of credit or payments between, by, or through financial institutions for the benefit of a sanctioned person subject to U.S. jurisdiction. E.O. 13849 further describes the actions that can be taken to implement the sanctions.

    In response to E.O. 13849, the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control published a new CAATSA- Russia-related FAQ providing additional clarifying information.

    Find continuing InfoBytes covered on CAATSA-related sanctions here.

    Financial Crimes Department of Treasury OFAC CAATSA Russia Executive Order

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  • OFAC publishes new Ukraine-/Russia-related FAQs providing guidance on “maintenance” related to wind-down activities

    Financial Crimes

    On September 14, the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) announced the publication of two new FAQs to provide additional guidance on “maintenance” as that term is used in General Licenses (GLs) 1415, and 16. As previously covered in InfoBytes (see posts here, here, and here), the GLs authorize specified wind-down activities otherwise prohibited by Ukraine-related sanctions regulations. According to OFAC, maintenance “generally includes all transactions and activities ordinarily incident to performing under a contract or agreement in effect prior to April 6, 2018, provided that the level of performance is consistent with the terms of the general license and consistent with past practices that existed between the party and the blocked entity prior to April 6, 2018.”

    Visit here for additional InfoBytes coverage on Ukraine/Russia-related sanctions.

    Financial Crimes OFAC Department of Treasury Ukraine Russia

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  • President Trump issues Executive Order authorizing sanctions in the event of foreign interference in U.S. elections

    Financial Crimes

    On September 12, President Trump announced the issuance of Executive Order 13848 (E.O.), which authorizes sanctions against foreign persons found to have engaged in, assisted, or otherwise supported foreign interference in U.S. elections. Should an intelligence assessment determine such activity has occurred, Section 2 of the E.O. requires that transactions in property and interests of such interfering persons that are in the U.S. or under control of a U.S. person be blocked, and Section 3 of the E.O. directs the Secretaries of State and Treasury—in consultation with the heads of other appropriate agencies—to recommend to the President additional sanctions against “the largest business entities licensed or domiciled in a country whose government authorized, directed, sponsored, or supported election interference, including at least one entity from each of the following sectors: financial services, defense, energy, technology, and transportation.” Such additional sanctions may include, with respect to the targeted entities, (i) blocking all transactions related to property and interests subject to U.S. jurisdiction; (ii) prohibitions on U.S. financial institutions making loans or extending credit to identified entities; (iii) prohibitions on transfers of credit or payments between, by, or through financial institutions for the benefit of such an entity; and (iv) prohibitions on U.S. persons investing in equity or debt of such entities.

    Financial Crimes OFAC Department of Treasury Sanctions Executive Order Trump

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  • OFAC reaches $1.5 million settlement with electronics company for alleged Iranian sanctions violations

    Financial Crimes

    On September 13, the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) announced a $1.5 million settlement with a California-based electronics company for alleged violations of the Iranian Transactions and Sanctions Regulations when it sold equipment to a Dubai-based distributor it knew or had reason to know distributed most, if not all, of its products to Iran. The settlement resolves litigation between the California company and OFAC stemming from a 2014 lawsuit challenging OFAC’s initial $4.07 million civil penalty. While the lower count ultimately granted summary judgment in favor of OFAC after finding enough evidence that the company knew the distributor’s business was primarily in Iran at the time the shipments were made, upon appeal, the D.C. Circuit reached a split decision in May 2017 setting aside OFAC’s initial penalty. While the appellate court affirmed that 34 of 39 shipments in question were in violation of the sanctions regulations, the company had produced emails indicating that the other shipments were intended for a retail store in Dubai. Because the penalty was calculated in such a way that the two shipments categories were “intertwined,” the court remanded the matter to OFAC for further consideration of the total penalty calculation.

    In arriving at the settlement amount, OFAC considered the following aggravating factors: (i) “the [a]lleged [v]iolations constituted or resulted in a systematic pattern of conduct”; (ii) the company exported goods valued at over $2.8 million; and (iii) the company had no compliance program in place at the time of the alleged violations. However, OFAC also considered mitigating factors such as the company’s status as a small business, the company not receiving a penalty or finding of a violation in the five years prior to the transactions at issue, and some cooperation with OFAC. OFAC further noted that following litigation, the company “took additional remedial actions to address the conduct that led to the [a]lleged [v]iolations, including terminating its relationship with [the Dubai-based distributor] and instituting an OFAC sanctions compliance program.”

    Financial Crimes Department of Treasury Sanctions OFAC Iran Courts Appellate Civil Money Penalties

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  • OFAC adds North Korea-controlled information technology companies in China and Russia to Specially Designated Nationals List

    Financial Crimes

    On September 13, the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) announced that it made additions to the Specially Designated Nationals List pursuant to Executive Order (E.O.) 13722 and E.O. 13810. These additions identify one individual and two entities connected to illicit revenue earned by North Korea from overseas information technology (IT) workers. According to OFAC, the China- and Russia-based front companies were actually managed and controlled by North Koreans, while the designated North Korean individual acted on behalf of the Chinese company. All designees were purported to have (i) “engaged in, facilitated, or been responsible for the exportation of workers from North Korea, including exportation to generate revenue for the Government of North Korea or the Workers’ Party of Korea”; and (ii) operated in the North Korean IT industry. As a result, all assets belonging to the identified individual and entities subject to U.S. jurisdiction are blocked, and U.S. persons are generally prohibited from engaging in transactions with them.

    See here for previous InfoBytes coverage on North Korean sanctions.

    Financial Crimes OFAC Department of Treasury Sanctions North Korea

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  • OFAC adds Syrians to Specially Designated Nationals List

    Financial Crimes

    On September 6, the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) added five entities and four individuals to OFAC’s Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons List for facilitating financial transactions and shipments of fuel and weapons in support of the Syrian government’s regime. The new sanctions, issued pursuant to Executive Order 13582, generally prohibit transactions by U.S. persons with those listed, and all assets belonging to the designated persons subject to U.S. jurisdiction are blocked and must be reported to OFAC.

    Visit here for continuing InfoBytes coverage on Syrian sanctions.

    Financial Crimes OFAC Department of Treasury Syria Sanctions

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  • OFAC adds North Koreans to Specially Designated Nationals List

    Financial Crimes

    On September 6, the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) made additions to the Specially Designated Nationals List pursuant to Executive Order (E.O.) 13722. OFAC’s additions to the designations identify one individual and one entity found to have “engaged in significant activities undermining cybersecurity through the use of computer networks or systems against targets outside of North Korea” on behalf of the Government of North Korea. OFAC cites to the individual’s participation in a 2016 cyber-enabled fraudulent transfer of $81 million, a 2017 ransomware attack, and the 2014 cyber-attack against a U.S. entertainment company. As a result, all assets belonging to the identified individual and entity subject to U.S. jurisdiction are blocked and must be reported to OFAC, and U.S. persons are generally prohibited from engaging in transactions with them.

    See here for previous InfoBytes coverage on North Korean sanctions.

    Financial Crimes OFAC Department of Treasury International North Korea Sanctions Executive Order

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  • OFAC targets shipping industry in expanded North Korea sanction

    Financial Crimes

    On August 15, the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) imposed additional sanctions, pursuant to Executive Order 13810, designed to reinforce the U.S.’s ongoing commitment to prevent the financing of North Korea’s weapons of mass destruction programs and activities. The sanctions designate a Chinese-based trading company and its Singaporean-based affiliate, along with a Russian-based port service agency and its director general, for allegedly facilitating illicit shipments on behalf of North Korea. Pursuant to OFAC’s sanctions, all property and interests in property of the designated persons within U.S. jurisdiction are blocked, and U.S. persons are generally prohibited from participating in transactions with these persons. 

    See here for previous InfoBytes coverage on North Korean sanctions.

    Financial Crimes OFAC Department of Treasury North Korea Sanctions International

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  • OFAC targets facilitators of illicit North Korean financial transactions; Russian bank sanctioned

    Financial Crimes

    On August 3, the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) announced its decision to sanction a Russian bank, pursuant to Executive Order (E.O.) 13810, for allegedly “knowingly facilitating a significant transaction” on behalf of an individual connected to North Korea’s primary foreign exchange bank. According to OFAC, the Russian bank violated its UN Security Council (UNSC) obligations by providing banking services to a representative of the North Korean bank who had previously been designated for weapons of mass destruction-related activities connected to North Korea. OFAC also issued sanctions against the North Korean bank’s Moscow-based deputy representative (E.O. 13687), as well as two of its associated “front companies” (E.O. 13722) accused of facilitating North Korean illicit financial activity. OFAC noted that, in accordance with UNSC requirements, all identified representatives “working on behalf of or at the direction of a [North Korean] bank or financial institution” should have been expelled from Russia, but instead, the Russian bank continued to facilitate transactions with the sanctioned persons. Pursuant to OFAC’s sanctions, all property and interests in property of the designated persons within U.S. jurisdiction are blocked and “may not be transferred, paid, exported, withdrawn, or otherwise dealt in.” Moreover, U.S. persons are “generally prohibited” from participating in transactions with these individuals and entities. 

    See here for previous InfoBytes coverage on North Korean sanctions.

    Financial Crimes OFAC Department of Treasury Russia North Korea Sanctions

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  • President Trump issues Iran-related executive order reimposing previously lifted sanctions; OFAC updates Iran-related FAQs

    Financial Crimes

    On August 6, President Trump announced the issuance of Iran-related Executive Order 13846 (E.O. 13846), which reimposes nuclear-related sanctions that were lifted in connection with the United States’ participation in the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPA) of July 14, 2015. As previously covered in InfoBytes, President Trump announced his decision to withdrawal from the JCPA on May 8. Newly issued E.O. 13846 reimposes certain sanctions, effective August 7, concerning persons—including foreign financial institutions—who facilitate or provide “financial, material, or technological support for” areas including Iran’s trade in U.S. bank notes and precious metals, its automotive sector, and its currency. Sanctions targeting Iran’s energy sector, as well as transactions between foreign financial institutions and the Central Bank of Iran, will resume effective November 5. E.O. 13846 also revokes and supersedes several previously issued E.O.s.

    In response to E.O. 13846, OFAC released updates to its FAQs concerning the additional sanctions, along with amendments to existing FAQs concerning the Iran Freedom and Counter-Proliferation Act of 2012. FAQs related to revoked E.O. 13622, Section 4 of E.O. 13628, and E.O. 13645 have been archived.

    See here for previous InfoBytes coverage on Iranian sanctions.

    Financial Crimes Department of Treasury OFAC Iran Sanctions Trump

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