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Financial Services Law Insights and Observations

Treasury official warns Turkish companies on engaging with Russian entities

Financial Crimes Of Interest to Non-US Persons OFAC OFAC Designations OFAC Sanctions Department of Treasury Russia Ukraine Ukraine Invasion Illicit Finance Anti-Money Laundering

Financial Crimes

On February 3, Under Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, Brian E. Nelson, met with the Banks Association of Turkey to discuss international sanctions actions against Russia for its war against Ukraine. Nelson highlighted global illicit finance challenges and stressed the importance of addressing weaknesses within the financial system “to root out financial crime, shine light on the financial shadows that illicit actors exploit, and work toward a more equitable and inclusive global economy.” Nelson commented on potential areas for cooperation between Turkish banks and the broader international finance community, pointing to opportunities for the U.S. and Turkey to work together to mitigate anti-money laundering vulnerabilities in the real estate sector. He also focused on Russia’s “abuse of the global financial system to fund” its war in Ukraine as a main factor in international cooperation for preventing Russia from circumventing sanctions and financial controls “in dozens of countries, including [Turkey].” While Nelson recognized Turkey’s reliance on Russian energy and agriculture, he said that “the marked rise over the past year in non-essential Turkish exports or re-exports to Russia makes the Turkish private sector particularly vulnerable to reputational and sanctions risks.” Engaging with sanctioned Russian entities puts Turkish banks and businesses “at risk of sanctions and a potential loss of access to G7 markets and correspondent relationships,” Nelson stressed, calling upon Turkish financial institutions to conduct “enhanced due diligence” in all transactions with Russian entities and individuals—especially within vulnerable sectors.