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Financial Services Law Insights and Observations

OFAC issues more Russian sanctions and metals and mining determination

Financial Crimes Of Interest to Non-US Persons Department of Treasury OFAC OFAC Sanctions OFAC Designations Russia Ukraine Ukraine Invasion

Financial Crimes

On February 24, the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) announced significant measures targeting the metals and mining sector of the Russian Federation economy under Executive Order 14024. OFAC also imposed sanctions on 22 individuals and 83 entities to further isolate Russia from the international economy and hinder the country’s access to capital, materials, technology, and military support sustaining its war against Ukraine. (See also OFAC’s fact sheet on sanctions measures taken during the past year.) According to OFAC, the designations target “over 30 third-country individuals and companies connected to Russia’s sanctions evasion efforts, including those related to arms trafficking and illicit finance.” The agency added that “[w]hile Russian banks representing over 80 percent of total Russian banking sector assets are already subject to U.S and international sanctions,” it is now “designating over a dozen financial institutions in Russia, including one of the top-ten largest banks by asset value.” OFAC explained that sanctioned actors are known to turn to smaller banks and wealth-management firms to evade sanctions and access the international financial system. As a result, several wealth management-related entities and associated individuals playing key roles in Russia’s financial services sector have been sanctioned. OFAC also issued a determination (effective February 24), in consultation with the Department of State, allowing for sanctions to be imposed on any individual or entity determined to operate or have operated in the metals and mining sector of the Russian Federation economy.

As a result of the sanctions, all property and interests in property belonging to the sanctioned persons that are in the U.S. or in the possession or control of U.S. persons are blocked and must be reported to OFAC. Further, “any entities that are owned, directly or indirectly, 50 percent or more by one or more blocked persons are also blocked.” U.S. persons are generally prohibited from engaging in any dealings involving the property or interests in property of blocked or designated persons unless authorized by an OFAC-issued general or specific license, or exempt.                   

The announcement further noted that additional measures have been taken by the Departments of State and Commerce, as well as the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, in coordination with allies and G7 partners.

In conjunction with the sanctions, OFAC issued several Russia-related general licenses (see GLs 8F, 13D, 60, and 61), as well as five associated frequently asked questions.