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  • OFAC issues temporary extension of Ukraine-related General Licenses

    Financial Crimes

    On January 16, the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) announced the issuance of Ukraine-related General Licenses (GL) 13J, 14E, and 16E, which modify the expiration dates of previous Ukraine-based general licenses for wind-down transactions for certain companies that otherwise would be prohibited by Ukraine-Related Sanctions Regulations.

    GL 13J supersedes GL 13I and authorizes, among other things, activities and transactions “ordinarily incident and necessary” for (i) the divestiture of the holdings of specified blocked persons to a non-U.S. person; and (ii) the facilitation of transfers of debt, equity, or other holdings involving specified blocked persons to a non-U.S. person. GL 14E, which supersedes GL 14D, relates to specific wind-down activities involving a Russian aluminum producer sanctioned last April as previously covered by InfoBytes here. GL 16E supersedes GL 16D and authorizes permissible activities with the designated company and its subsidiaries, and applies to the maintenance and wind-down of operations, contracts, and agreements that were effective prior to April 6.

    Financial Crimes Sanctions OFAC Department of Treasury Ukraine International

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  • OFAC adds illicit foreign exchange operation participants to Specially Designated Nationals List; issues Venezuela-related General License and new FAQ

    Financial Crimes

    On January 8, the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) announced additions to the Specially Designated Nationals List pursuant to Executive Order 13850. OFAC’s additions to the list include seven individuals—including former Venezuelan government officials—and 23 entities for their participation in a bribery scheme involving the Venezuelan Office of the National Treasury in order to conduct illicit foreign exchange operations in the country. According to OFAC, the designated persons engaged in transactions involving deceptive practices and corruption, including wiring payments that were “hidden behind a sophisticated network of U.S. and foreign companies that hid the individuals’ beneficial ownership.” As a result, all assets belonging to the identified individuals and entities subject to U.S. jurisdiction are blocked, and U.S. persons generally are prohibited from dealing with them.

    Concurrently, OFAC issued Venezuela-related General License 6 (GL 6) to allow U.S. persons to engage in otherwise prohibited wind-down transactions with two of the designated companies through January 8, 2020. Specifically, GL 6 authorizes certain activities with the designated companies relating to the maintenance and wind-down of operations, contracts, and agreements that were effective prior to January 8, 2019. OFAC also published a new FAQ to provide additional guidance on the types of activities considered “maintenance” under GL 6.

    As FCPA Scorecard previously reported, the owner was indicted under seal in August for conspiracy to violate the FCPA, conspiracy to commit money laundering, and nine counts of money laundering.

    Visit here for additional InfoBytes coverage on Venezuela sanctions.

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  • OFAC issues temporary extension of Ukraine-related General Licenses

    Financial Crimes

    On December 20, the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) announced the issuance of Ukraine-related General Licenses (GL) 13I and 15D, which extend the expiration date of previous Ukrainian-based general licenses to March 7, 2019 for wind-down transactions for certain companies that otherwise would be prohibited by Ukraine-Related Sanctions Regulations.

    GL 13I supersedes GL 13H and authorizes, among other things, activities and transactions “ordinarily incident and necessary” for (i) the divestiture of the holdings of specified blocked persons to a non-U.S. person; and (ii) the facilitation of transfers of debt, equity, or other holdings involving specified blocked persons to a non-U.S. person. GL 15D, which supersedes GL 15C, relates to permissible activities with the designated company and its subsidiaries, and applies to the maintenance and wind-down of operations, contracts, and agreements that were effective prior to April 6.

    Visit here for additional InfoBytes coverage on Ukraine sanctions.

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  • OFAC reaches settlement with Chinese company for alleged Iranian sanctions violations

    Financial Crimes

    On December 12, the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) announced a $2,774,972 settlement with a Chinese oilfield services company and its affiliated companies and subsidiaries (collectively, the “group”) for 11 alleged violations of the Iranian Transactions and Sanctions Regulations. According to OFAC, the settlement resolves potential civil liability for the group’s alleged involvement in exporting or re-exporting, or attempts to export or re-export, U.S.-based goods to end-users in Iran through China.

    In arriving at the settlement amount, OFAC considered the following as aggravating factors: (i) the group “willfully violated U.S. sanctions on Iran by engaging in and systematically obfuscating conduct it knew to be prohibited by company policy and economic sanctions, and continued to engage in such conduct even after the U.S. Government began to investigate the conduct”; (ii) employees, including management, were aware of the transactions and concealed the nature of the transactions from the U.S.; (iii) the group falsified information and provided false statements to the U.S. during the course of the investigation; (iv) the group’s conduct, which occurred over a period of years, provided economic benefits to Iran; and (v) the group is a commercially sophisticated international corporation.

    OFAC also considered numerous mitigating factors, including (i) the group has no prior OFAC sanctions history and has not received a penalty or finding of a violation in the five years before the transactions at issue; (ii) the group has cooperated with OFAC and disclosed possible violations involving other sanctions programs; (iii) the group agreed to toll the statute of limitations; and (iv) the group implemented remedial measures and corrective actions to minimize the risk of reoccurring conduct.

    Visit here for additional InfoBytes coverage on Iranian sanctions.

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  • OFAC issues continued extension of Ukraine-related General Licenses

    Financial Crimes

    On December 7, the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) announced the issuance of Ukraine-related General Licenses (GL) 13H, 14D, 15C, and 16D, which amend previous licenses related to permissible wind-down transactions that otherwise would be prohibited by Ukraine-Related Sanctions Regulations with respect to the subject entities. OFAC extended the expiration dates of the licenses from January 7 to January 21.

    GL 13H supersedes GL 13G and authorizes, among other things, activities “ordinarily incident and necessary” to (i) divest or transfer debt, equity, or other holdings in the specified blocked entities to a non-U.S. person; or (ii) facilitate the transfers of debt, equity, or other holdings in those entities by a non-U.S. person to another non-U.S. person. GL 14D, which supersedes GL 14C, relates to specific wind-down activities involving a Russian aluminum producer sanctioned last April as previously covered by InfoBytes here. GL 15C and GL 16D supersede GL 15B and GL 16C, respectively, and authorize permissible activities relating to the maintenance or wind-down of operations, contracts, and agreements with designated entities and subsidiaries that were effective prior to April 6.

    Visit here for additional InfoBytes coverage on Ukraine sanctions.

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  • OFAC announces cyber-related designations, releases digital-currency addresses to identify illicit actors

    Financial Crimes

    On November 28, the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) announced sanctions pursuant to Executive Order 13694 against two Iran-based individuals for allegedly helping to facilitate the exchange of ransom payments made in Bitcoin into local currency. For the first time, OFAC also identified two digital currency addresses associated with the identified financial facilitators who are designated “for having materially assisted, sponsored, or provided financial, material, or technological support for, or goods or services to or in support of” ransomware attacks that threaten the “national security, foreign policy, or economic health or financial stability of the [U.S.]” According to OFAC, the provided digital currency addresses should be used to assist in identifying transactions and funds to be blocked as well as investigating potential connections.

    Treasury Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Sigal Mandelker stated, “We are publishing digital-currency addresses to identify illicit actors operating in the digital-currency space. Treasury will aggressively pursue Iran and other rogue regimes attempting to exploit digital currencies and weaknesses in cyber and [anti-money laundering/countering financing of terrorism] safeguards to further their nefarious objectives.” OFAC issued a warning that persons who engage in transactions with the identified individuals “could be subject to secondary sanctions” and that “[r]egardless of whether a transaction is denominated in a digital currency or traditional fiat currency, OFAC compliance obligations are the same.” As a result, all property and interests in property belonging to the identified individuals subject to U.S. jurisdiction “or within or transiting” the U.S. are blocked, and U.S. persons are generally prohibited from entering into transactions with them. OFAC also released new FAQs to provide guidance for financial institutions on digital currency.

    View here for additional InfoBytes coverage on Iranian sanctions.

    Financial Crimes Department of Treasury OFAC Virtual Currency Bitcoin Sanctions Iran

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  • OFAC reaches settlement with company for alleged Ukrainian sanctions violations

    Financial Crimes

    On November 27, the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) announced a $87,507 settlement with an aerospace and defense technology company for three alleged violations by a former subsidiary of the Ukraine-Related Sanctions Regulations (URSR). According to OFAC, the settlement resolves potential civil liability for the former subsidiary’s alleged involvement in the “indirect export of components to be incorporated into commercial air traffic control radar” through Canadian and Russian distributors “to a person owned 50 percent or more, directly or indirectly, by a person identified on OFAC’s List of Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons.”

    In arriving at the settlement amount, OFAC considered the following as aggravating factors: (i) the former subsidiary’s failure to recognize warning signs; (ii) the transactions, which constituted the apparent violations, were reviewed and approved by the Director of Global Trade Compliance, and “resulted in harm to the sanctions program objectives of the URSR”; (iii) the company and former subsidiary are large, sophisticated entities; and (iv) the company and its compliance personnel previously violated Iranian Transaction and Sanctions Regulations, while the former subsidiary was subject to a consent agreement as a result of recurring compliance failures.

    However OFAC also considered mitigating factors, including (i) the former subsidiary has not received a penalty or finding of a violation in the five years prior to the transactions at issue; (ii) the company has cooperated with OFAC and implemented remedial measures, including terminating the violative conduct and implementing steps to minimize the risk of reoccurring conduct; and (iii) the company voluntarily disclosed the alleged violations on behalf of the former subsidiary.

    Visit here for additional InfoBytes coverage on Ukraine sanctions.

    Financial Crimes Department of Treasury OFAC Ukraine Sanctions

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  • OFAC targets individual accused of offering sanctions evasion advice to North Korean company

    Financial Crimes

    On November 19, the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) announced an addition to the Specially Designated Nationals List pursuant to Executive Order (E.O.) 13722. The addition identifies one individual found to have offered advice on evading U.S. sanctions that ultimately assisted third party companies in the illicit purchase of fuel and gas oil for North Korea. In addition, OFAC also cites to a 2017 DOJ complaint concerning the companies’ alleged participation in laundering millions of dollars connected to North Korea. As a result, all assets belonging to the identified individual that are subject to U.S. jurisdiction are blocked, and U.S. persons are generally prohibited from engaging in transactions with him.

    See here for previous InfoBytes coverage on North Korean sanctions.

    Financial Crimes OFAC North Korea Sanctions

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  • OFAC sanctions individuals connected to Hizballah, IRGC-QF networks in Iraq

    Financial Crimes

    On November 13, the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) announced sanctions against four Hizballah-affiliated individuals for their alleged leadership roles in the group’s terrorist financial activities in Iraq, including providing support for the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Qods Force (IRGC-QF). According to OFAC, the sanctions were issued pursuant to Executive Order 13224, which “targets terrorists and those providing support to terrorists or acts of terrorism.” OFAC’s designations follow the Hizballah International Financing Prevention Amendments Act of 2018—signed into law October 25—along with the reimposition of Iran-related sanctions on November 5 (see previous InfoBytes coverage here), and reinforces U.S. efforts to “protect the international financial system by targeting Hizballah’s supporters, financial networks, and those that facilitate and enable its destabilizing activities worldwide.” Furthermore, OFAC states that the four Specially Designated Global Terrorists are also subject to secondary sanctions under the Hizballah Financial Sanctions Regulations, which implement the Hizballah International Financing Prevention Act of 2015, and allows OFAC to “prohibit or impose strict conditions on the opening or maintaining in the [U.S.] of a correspondent account or a payable-through account by a foreign financial institution that knowingly facilitates a significant transaction for Hizballah.” As a result, all property and interests in property belonging to the identified individuals subject to U.S. jurisdiction are blocked, and U.S. persons are generally prohibited from entering into transactions with them.

    Visit here for additional InfoBytes coverage on sanctions involving Hizballah networks.

    Financial Crimes Department of Treasury OFAC Russia Ukraine Sanctions

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  • OFAC issues extension of Ukraine-related General Licenses

    Financial Crimes

    On November 9, the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) announced the issuance of Ukraine-related General Licenses (GL) 13G, 14C, 15B, and 16C, which amend previous licenses related to permissible wind-down transactions that otherwise would be prohibited by Ukraine-Related Sanctions Regulations with respect to the subject entities. OFAC extended the expiration dates of the licenses from December 12 to January 7, 2019, while reviewing the sanctioned entities’ proposed “substantial corporate governance changes” that may result in significant changes in their control.

    GL 13G supersedes GL 13F and authorizes, among other things, activities “ordinarily incident and necessary” to (i) divest or transfer debt, equity, or other holdings in the specified blocked entities to a non-U.S. person; or (ii) facilitate the transfers of debt, equity, or other holdings in those entities by a non-U.S. person to another non-U.S. person. GL 14C, which supersedes GL 14B, relates to specific wind-down activities involving a Russian aluminum producer sanctioned last April as previously covered by InfoBytes here. GL 15B and GL 16C supersede GL 15A and GL 16B, respectively, and authorize permissible activities relating to the maintenance or wind-down of operations, contracts, and agreements with designated entities and subsidiaries that were effective prior to April 6.

    Visit here for additional InfoBytes coverage on Ukraine sanctions.

    Financial Crimes OFAC Department of Treasury Ukraine Sanctions

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