Skip to main content
Menu Icon Menu Icon
Close

InfoBytes Blog

Financial Services Law Insights and Observations

Filter

Subscribe to our InfoBytes Blog weekly newsletter and other publications for news affecting the financial services industry.

  • OFAC sanctions persons in Bosnia and Herzegovina

    Financial Crimes

    On October 3, the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) announced sanctions pursuant to Executive Order 14033 against two individuals and one business entity in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH). According OFAC, these designations follow OFAC’s September 26 designation of a corrupt state prosecutor in BiH and build on other recent sanctions imposed on individuals and entities in the region (covered by InfoBytes here). Collectively, OFAC noted that “these actions underscore the United States’ willingness to hold accountable those enabling divisive and destabilizing activities in the Western Balkans.” OFAC further noted that one of the designated individuals is one of the wealthiest individuals in BiH and is the longtime owner of a large engineering firm. According to OFAC, the individual and the firm “have been linked to corruption in the construction sector.” The sanctions also target the Prime Minister of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina for “misus[ing] pensioner data for the benefit of his own political party and contrary to BiH law.” As a result of the sanctions, all property and interests in property belonging to the sanctioned individuals and entities subject to U.S. jurisdiction are blocked and must be reported to OFAC. Additionally, “any entities that are owned, directly or indirectly, 50 percent or more by one or more blocked persons are also blocked.” OFAC further noted that “transactions by U.S. persons or within (or transiting) the United States that involve any property or interests in property of designated or blocked persons are prohibited unless authorized by a general or specific license issued by OFAC, or exempt,” which “include the making of any contribution or provision of funds, goods, or services by, to, or for the benefit of any blocked person and the receipt of any contribution or provision of funds, goods, or services from any such person.”

    Financial Crimes Of Interest to Non-US Persons Department of Treasury OFAC OFAC Sanctions OFAC Designations Bosnia Herzegovina SDN List

    Share page with AddThis
  • Treasury reissues Libyan Sanctions Regulations

    Financial Crimes

    On September 30, the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) announced a final rule reissuing the Libyan Sanctions Regulations, which were previously published in abbreviated form in 2011. The reissuance of the Libyan Sanctions Regulations includes additional interpretive guidance and definitions, general licenses, and other regulatory provisions that will provide further guidance to the public. includes additional interpretive guidance and definitions, general licenses, and other regulatory provisions that will provide further guidance to the public. The rule is effective immediately.

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

    Share page with AddThis
  • OFAC reissues Central African Republic Sanctions Regulations and Western Balkans Stabilization Regulations

    Financial Crimes

    On September 28, the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) announced the reissuance of the Central African Republic Sanctions Regulations and the Western Balkans Stabilization Regulations. OFAC noted that the Central African Republic Sanctions Regulations were previously published in abbreviated form in 2014, and the Western Balkans Stabilization Regulations were originally published in abbreviated form in 2002 and last amended in 2011. The reissued regulations include, among other things, additional interpretive guidance and definitions, general licenses, and other regulatory provisions that will provide further guidance to the public. The regulations are effective immediately.

    Financial Crimes Department of Treasury OFAC OFAC Sanctions OFAC Designations Of Interest to Non-US Persons Central African Republic Balkans

    Share page with AddThis
  • OFAC issues guidance on instant payment systems sanctions compliance

    Financial Crimes

    On September 30, the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) published Sanctions Compliance Guidance for Instant Payment Systems, which emphasizes the importance of taking a risk-based approach to managing sanctions risks in the context of new payment technologies, such as instant payment systems, and highlights considerations relevant to managing those risks. According to OFAC, the guidance “encourages developers of instant payment systems to incorporate sanctions compliance considerations and features as they develop these systems.” The guidance, among other things, describes: (i) risk factors and considerations for instant payment systems; (ii) domestic vs. cross-border payment system; (iii) availability of emerging sanctions compliance technologies and solution; (iv) nature and value of payment; and (v) OFAC engagement and resources.

    Financial Crimes Agency Rule-Making & Guidance OFAC Department of Treasury Of Interest to Non-US Persons OFAC Sanctions Risk Management Payments

    Share page with AddThis
  • OFAC announces Russian sanctions, REPO provides update

    Financial Crimes

    On September 30, the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), together with the Departments of Commerce and State, announced sanctions against 14 persons in Russia’s military-industrial complex, including two international suppliers, three key leaders of Russia’s financial infrastructure, and immediate family members of certain senior Russian officials, as well as 278 members of Russia’s legislature, for enabling Russia’s referenda and effort to annex Ukraine. As a result of the sanctions, all property and interests in property belonging to the sanctioned targets 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 50 percent or more by one or more designated persons” are blocked. U.S. persons are prohibited from engaging in any dealings involving the property or interests in property of blocked or designated persons, unless exempt or authorized by a general or specific OFAC license. Additionally, OFAC issued FAQ 1091 to provide new guidance warning of the heightened sanctions risk that international actors outside of Russia would face for providing political or economic support to Russia as a result of its illegal attempts to change the status of Ukrainian territory. According to OFAC, the FAQ emphasizes that the U.S. “is prepared to more aggressively use its existing sanctions authorities, including E.O. 13660, E.O. 14024, and E.O. 14065, to target persons—inside or outside Russia—whose activities may constitute material assistance, sponsorship, or provision of financial, material, or technological support for, or goods or services (together ‘material support’) to or in support of persons sanctioned pursuant to those Executive orders, or sanctionable activity related to Russia’s sham referenda, purported annexation, and continued occupation of the Kherson, Zaporizhzhya, Donetsk, and Luhansk regions of Ukraine.” OFAC noted, however, that it “will generally not impose sanctions on non-U.S. persons that engage in transactions that would be authorized for U.S. persons, such as certain energy-related transactions.”

    The same day, Treasury and the DOJ announced that the Russian Elites, Proxies, and Oligarchs (REPO) Task Force Deputies convened to accelerate oligarch asset forfeiture efforts in response to Russia’s war in Ukraine. As previously covered by InfoBytes, REPO is a multilateral task force that was formed in February 2022 and is “committed to using their respective authorities in concert with other appropriate ministries to collect and share information to take concrete actions, including sanctions, asset freezing, and civil and criminal asset seizure, and criminal prosecution.” Representatives from Australia, Canada, Germany, France, Italy, Japan, the UK, the European Commission, and the U.S. discussed continuing initiatives “to tailor already robust asset forfeiture tools and maximize the impact of our joint work on Russian elites and their cronies” for their involvement with the war in Ukraine. REPO further noted that their steps “immobilized Russian assets as one of several means to induce Russia to come into compliance with its international law obligations, including the obligation to pay reparations.”

    Financial Crimes OFAC Department of Treasury DOJ Department of State Department of Commerce OFAC Designations OFAC Sanctions SDN List Ukraine Russia Ukraine Invasion Of Interest to Non-US Persons

    Share page with AddThis
  • OFAC announces settlement with company that supplies and distributes electronic rewards

    Financial Crimes

    On September 30, the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) announced a $116,000 settlement with a Washington-based company that supplies and distributes electronic rewards, for allegedly processing transactions in violation of multiple U.S sanctions regulations. According to OFAC’s notice, the company allegedly “transmitted 27,720 merchant gift cards and promotional debit cards, totaling $386,828.65, to individuals with email or IP addresses associated with Cuba, Iran, Syria, North Korea, or the Crimea region of Ukraine.” In arriving at the settlement amount, OFAC considered various aggravating factors, including, among other things, that the company (i) “failed to impose risk-based geolocation rules using tools at its disposal to identify the location of its reward recipients, despite having reason to know that it was transmitting rewards to recipients in sanctioned jurisdictions”; and (ii) “conferred up to $386,828.65 in economic benefit to jurisdictions and regions subject to sanctions.” OFAC also considered various mitigating factors, including, among other things, that the company has not received a penalty notice from OFAC in the preceding five years, “represents that it undertook various measures to strengthen its OFAC compliance processes,” voluntarily self-disclosed the alleged violations, and substantially cooperated with the investigation.

    Financial Crimes OFAC Department of Treasury Enforcement Settlement OFAC Sanctions OFAC Designations Of Interest to Non-US Persons

    Share page with AddThis
  • FINRA revises Sanctions Guidelines

    Financial Crimes

    On September 29, FINRA issued Regulatory Notice 22-20, announcing revisions to its Sanctions Guidelines to ensure they align with the levels of sanctions imposed in FINRA disciplinary proceedings and reflect the differences between types of respondents. Among other things, the revised guidelines: (i) differentiate current guidelines for individuals and firms; (ii) establish separate fine ranges for firms based on size; (iii) remove the upper limit of the fine range for mid- and large-size firms “to reflect the settlement amounts that FINRA frequently seeks for these types of violations and the fact that these guidelines address the most serious violations that FINRA pursues”; (iv) create six new AML guidelines (the revisions specify that the guidelines “have no upper limit on the fine range for mid-size and large-size firms for AML violations that involve the failure to reasonably monitor to report suspicious transactions”); (v) include a discussion of non-monetary sanctions for firms; (vi) create “single fine ranges for all actions in the Quality of Markets guidelines and other select guidelines”; (vii) establish a $5,000 minimum fine for all firms regardless of size; and (viii) delete certain infrequently used guidelines.

    Financial Crimes Of Interest to Non-US Persons FINRA OFAC Sanctions Anti-Money Laundering Agency Rule-Making & Guidance

    Share page with AddThis
  • OFAC sanctions Iranian entities for petrochemicals and petroleum sales

    Financial Crimes

    On September 26, the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) announced sanctions pursuant to Executive Order 13846 against an international network of companies involved in the sale of Iranian petrochemicals and petroleum products in South and East Asia. According to OFAC, the designations target Iranian brokers and several front companies in the UAE, Hong Kong, and India that have facilitated financial transfers and shipping of Iranian petroleum and petrochemical products. OFAC also noted that the sanctioned entities have played a critical role in concealing the origin of the Iranian shipments and enabling two sanctioned Iranian brokers to transfer funds and ship Iranian petroleum and petrochemicals to buyers in Asia. In addition to OFAC’s designations, the State Department is designating two entities based in the People’s Republic of China for their involvement in Iran’s petrochemical trade. As a result of the sanctions, all property and interests in property belonging to the sanctioned persons subject to U.S. jurisdiction are blocked and must be reported to OFAC. Additionally, “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 also generally prohibited from engaging in any dealings involving the property or interests in property of blocked or designated persons unless authorized by an OFAC general or specific license. Persons that engage in certain transactions with the individuals or entities designated today may themselves be exposed to designation. Additionally, OFAC warned that “any foreign financial institution that knowingly facilitates a significant transaction or provides significant financial services for any of the individuals or entities designated today could be subject to U.S. correspondent or payable-through account sanctions.”

    Financial Crimes Of Interest to Non-US Persons Department of Treasury OFAC Iran OFAC Sanctions OFAC Designations SDN List China United Arab Emirates Hong Kong India

    Share page with AddThis
  • SEC fines tech company $23 million for FCPA violations

    Financial Crimes

    On September 27, the SEC announced that a multinational information technology company headquartered in Texas  (the “Company”) agreed to pay over $23 million to settle claims that its agents and employees of its subsidiaries in Turkey, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and India violated the anti-bribery, books and records, and internal accounting controls provisions of the FCPA. According to the SEC’s order, from at least 2014 through 2019, several subsidiary employees used discount schemes and false marketing reimbursement payments to create slush funds used to bribe foreign officials in exchange for business. The slush funds were also used to provide other benefits, including paying for foreign officials and their families to attend technology conferences around the world and trips to the U.S. The SEC explained that first-level supervisors at the subsidiaries could approve purchase orders under $5,000 without evidence that marketing activity actually took place. By exploiting this loophole in the company’s controls, employees of the Company’s subsidiaries in Turkey, the UAE, and India were able to funnel money into the slush funds undetected. Employees of the Turkish subsidiary allegedly used the funds to bribe government officials and pay for the travel and accommodation expenses of customers, including foreign officials, the SEC claimed. Employees of the UAE subsidiary allegedly used the funds to pay $130,000 in bribes to government officials in exchange for six contracts. Employees in India also allegedly engaged in a similar scheme, with one employee claiming that the Company would lose out on a deal if the Indian Ministry of Railways was not provided a 70 percent software discount. According to the SEC, the Ministry’s procurement website showed that the Indian subsidiary faced no competition because the Ministry required the use of the Company’s products for the project.

    The resolution requires the Company to pay a $15 million civil money penalty, $7,114,376 million in disgorgement, and $791,040 in prejudgment interest. The Company neither admitted nor denied the allegations.

    This is the second time the Company has resolved FCPA charges with the SEC. In 2012, the Company paid a $2 million penalty to settle allegations that it violated the anti-bribery, books and records, and internal accounting controls provisions of the FCPA when it allegedly failed to prevent an India subsidiary from maintaining unauthorized side funds at distributors. 

    Financial Crimes Of Interest to Non-US Persons SEC Bribery Enforcement FCPA Turkey United Arab Emirates India

    Share page with AddThis
  • FinCEN releases final rule on beneficial ownership reporting

    Financial Crimes

    On September 29, FinCEN issued a final rule establishing a beneficial ownership information reporting requirement, pursuant to the bipartisan Corporate Transparency Act. According to FinCEN, the final rule will require most corporations, limited liability companies, and other entities created in or registered to do business in the U.S. to report information about their beneficial owners to FinCEN. FinCEN noted that the final rule is designed to protect national security and strengthen the integrity and transparency of the U.S. financial system. FinCEN also released a Fact Sheet clarifying the final rule. The final rule is effective January 1, 2024. Reporting companies created or registered before January 1, 2024, will have until January 1, 2025, to file their initial reports, while reporting companies created or registered after January 1, 2024, will have 30 days after creation or registration to file their initial reports. Once the initial report has been filed, both existing and new reporting companies will have to file updates within 30 days of a change in their beneficial ownership information, according to FinCEN. The same day, Treasury Secretary Janet L. Yellen released a statement, noting that the final rule is “a major step forward in giving law enforcement, national security agencies, and other partners the information they need to crack down on criminals, corrupt individuals, and other bad actors who seek to take advantage of America’s financial system for illicit purposes.”

    Financial Crimes Department of Treasury FinCEN Beneficial Ownership Corporate Transparency Act Of Interest to Non-US Persons Agency Rule-Making & Guidance

    Share page with AddThis

Pages