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Financial Services Law Insights and Observations

OFAC sanctions bank connected to Hizballah; identifies several individuals as facilitators for HAMAS

Financial Crimes Department of Treasury OFAC Sanctions Of Interest to Non-US Persons Iran

Financial Crimes

On August 29, the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) announced sanctions pursuant to Executive Order 13224 (E.O. 13224) against a Lebanon-based financial institution, along with three of its subsidiaries, for allegedly facilitating banking activities for Hizballah. OFAC designated the financial institution as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist “for assisting in, sponsoring, or providing financial, material, or technological support for, or financial or other services to or in support of, Hizballah.” As a result of the sanctions, “all property and interests in property of these targets that are in the United States or in the possession or control of U.S. persons must be blocked and reported to OFAC.” OFAC noted that its regulations “generally prohibit” U.S. persons from participating in transactions with the designated persons. The designated entities are also subject to secondary sanctions pursuant to the Hizballah Financial Sanctions Regulations, which implement the Hizballah International Financing Prevention Act of 2015, and allow OFAC the authority to “prohibit or impose strict conditions on the opening or maintaining in the United States of a correspondent account or a payable-through account by a foreign financial institution that knowingly facilitates a significant transaction for Hizballah, or a person acting on behalf of or at the direction of, or owned or controlled by, Hizballah.”

The same day, OFAC also designated several financial facilitators pursuant to E.O. 13224 for allegedly acting as intermediaries between Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Qods Force and HAMAS’s operational arm. According to OFAC, the Lebanon and Gaza-based financial facilitators are responsible for moving tens of millions of dollars from Iran through Hizballah to HAMAS, funding violence against people in Gaza. As a result, all property and interests in property of the sanctioned targets subject to U.S. jurisdiction are blocked and must be reported to OFAC. U.S. persons are also generally prohibited from entering into transactions with designated persons. Furthermore, “persons that engage in certain transactions with the individuals designated today may themselves be exposed to sanctions or subject to an enforcement action.” 

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