OFAC settles with Romanian bank for Iranian and Syrian sanctions violations
On August 27, the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) announced a $862,318 settlement with a Romania-based bank and its U.S. parent company to resolve 98 apparent violations of OFAC’s Iran and Syria sanctions programs. According to OFAC’s web notice, the bank processed 98 commercial transactions totaling more than $3.5 million through U.S. banks on behalf of parties located in Iran and Syria. OFAC considered various aggravating factors in arriving at the settlement amount, including that the bank (i) demonstrated “a reckless disregard for U.S. sanctions regulations by failing to implement appropriate controls to comply with applicable U.S. regulations with respect to payments it processed” that had a “sanctions nexus that transited the U.S. financial system” or “after the bank became a foreign subsidiary of a U.S. person”; (ii) knew, or had reason to know, “it was processing payments on behalf of persons in Iran and Syria because of underlying finance and trade documents in its possession that referenced those countries”; and (iii) conveyed more than $3.5 million in economic benefit to Iranian and Syrian persons, thus causing harm to the integrity of U.S. sanctions programs and their associated policy objectives.
OFAC also considered various mitigating factors, including that the bank voluntarily self-disclosed the apparent violations and the apparent violations constitute a non-egregious case. OFAC also determined that the bank (i) has not received a penalty notice from OFAC in the preceding five years; (ii) cooperated with OFAC’s investigation, conducted a lookback, and entered into a tolling agreement; and (iii) has undertaken remedial measures to ensure sanctions compliance. As such, OFAC noted that under its Economic Sanctions Enforcement Guidelines, the base civil money penalty amount is applicable in this matter with the final settlement amount reflecting OFAC’s consideration of general factors.