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  • OFAC announces human rights abuse sanctions

    Financial Crimes

    On December 10, the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) announced sanctions pursuant to Executive Order 13818 against 15 individuals and 10 entities under the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act. According to OFAC, the sanctioned individuals and entities are connected to human rights abuse and repression in several countries. The same day, OFAC announced that it imposed investment restrictions on one company in connection with the surveillance technology sector of the People’s Republic of China’s economy, highlighting the human rights abuses allowed through technology. OFAC also noted that the actions are taken on International Human Rights Day, which marks the day the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948. 

    As a result of the sanctions, all property and interests in property belonging to the sanctioned 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 noted that its regulations generally prohibit U.S. persons from participating in transactions with these persons, which include “the making of any contribution or provision of funds, goods, or services by, to, or for the benefit of any blocked person or the receipt of any contribution or provision of funds, goods or services from any such person.”

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

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  • OFAC sanctions corruption networks connected to transnational organized crime

    Financial Crimes

    On December 8, the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) announced sanctions against 16 individuals and 24 entities across several countries in Europe and the Western Hemisphere under the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act, which “targets perpetrators of corruption and serious human rights abuse.” These designations follow actions announced last week targeting corruption in the Democratic Republic of Congo as well as persons that contribute to repression and the undermining of democracy around the world (covered by InfoBytes here and here). OFAC also highlighted the recently released United States Strategy on Countering Corruption, which outlines a whole-of-government approach to elevating the fight against corruption, and places particular “emphasis on the transnational dimensions of the challenges posed by corruption, including by recognizing the ways in which corrupt actors have used the U.S. financial system and other rule-of-law based systems to launder their ill-gotten gains.” (Covered by InfoBytes here.) Organized crime and corruption, which are often linked, OFAC warned, undermine the integrity of the international financial system.

    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.” OFAC noted that U.S. persons are prohibited from participating in transactions with these persons, which includes “the making of any contribution or provision of funds, goods, or services by, to, or for the benefit of any blocked person or the receipt of any contribution or provision of funds, goods or services from any such person.”

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

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  • OFAC sanctions persons linked to Democratic Republic of Congo

    Financial Crimes

    On December 6, the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) announced sanctions pursuant to Executive Order 13818 against an individual and 12 associated entities in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Gibraltar under the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act. All of the designated persons have allegedly provided support for a previously sanctioned billionaire, OFAC stated, adding that these measures build upon Treasury’s commitment to “supporting the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s anti-corruption efforts by going after those that abuse the political system for economic gain and unfairly profit from the Congolese state.” As a result of the sanctions, all property and interests in property belonging to the sanctioned persons, and “any entities that are owned, directly or indirectly, 50 percent or more” by them that are subject to U.S. jurisdiction are blocked and must be reported to OFAC. OFAC noted that its regulations generally prohibit U.S. persons from participating in transactions with these individual and entities unless authorized by a general or specific license. This includes “the making of any contribution or provision of funds, goods, or services by, to, or for the benefit of any blocked person or the receipt of any contribution or provision of funds, goods, or services from any such person.”

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

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  • OFAC and State Dept. add new corruption, human rights abuse sanctions

    Financial Crimes

    On December 9, the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) announced sanctions pursuant to Executive Order 13818 targeting 15 individuals and entities connected to corruption and serious human rights abuse in several countries across Central America, Africa, and Europe under the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act. OFAC noted that the designations were announced on International Anti-Corruption Day to “reinforce the priority placed upon curbing corruption through strategic and regulatory action at the Summit for Democracy.” As a result of the sanctions, all property and interests in property belonging to the sanctioned 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 noted that its regulations generally prohibit U.S. persons from participating in transactions with these persons, which include “the making of any contribution or provision of funds, goods, or services by, to, or for the benefit of any blocked person or the receipt of any contribution or provision of funds, goods or services from any such person.” In a complementary action, the U.S. Department of State also announced visa restrictions under Section 7031(c) of the Department of State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Appropriations Act, which targeted several corrupt officials and their immediate family members, making them ineligible to enter the U.S. 

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

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  • FINRA fines financial firms $2.25 million for alleged improper storage of customer data

    Financial Crimes

    On December 6, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) entered into a Letter of Acceptance, Waiver, and Consent (AWC), which requires two units of a national bank (respondents) to jointly and severally pay a $2.25 million fine for allegedly failing to store customer information in the format required under federal anti-money laundering regulations, and then taking three years to report the issue after it was discovered. According to FINRA, in 2016, the agency found that the respondents allegedly violated various books and records retention requirements and related supervisory rules when maintaining approximately one million electronic brokerage records. In 2017, the respondents certified that they “had ‘adopted and implemented policies and procedures reasonably designed to achieve compliance with the applicable federal securities laws and FINRA rules’ addressed in the December 2016 AWC.” However, FINRA claimed that from 2003 to August 2020, the respondents allegedly failed to properly store roughly 13 million records related to their customer identification program (CIP) in the required “write once, read many” format (known as “WORM”). This “non-rewritable, non-erasable” format required under federal anti-money-laundering regulations is intended to prevent the alteration or destruction of customer identification information, FINRA explained. The respondents conducted an internal review in 2020, which concluded that the respondents were storing CIP records on a non-WORM compliant system. However, the respondents self-reported the issue to FINRA in April 2020 and migrated the relevant records to a WORM-compliant system by August 2020. The respondents did not admit nor deny the findings as part of the AWC, but have agreed to a censure and will pay the fine.

    Financial Crimes Anti-Money Laundering Privacy/Cyber Risk & Data Security FINRA Enforcement

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  • OFAC reaches $133,860 settlement in Iranian sanctions matter

    Financial Crimes

    On December 8, the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) announced a $133,860 settlement against an individual for allegedly facilitating four payments on behalf of an Iranian company using a personal bank account in the U.S., in violation of the Iranian Transactions and Sanctions Regulations (ITSR), 31. C.F.R. part 560. According to OFAC’s web notice, between February 2016 and March 2016, the individual accepted $133,860 in the U.S., which went to a personal bank account, on behalf of an Iran-based company selling Iranian-origin cement to another company for a project in a third country.

    In arriving at the settlement amount, OFAC considered various aggravating factors, including, among other things, that the individual: (i) willfully was in violation of or recklessly ignored U.S. sanctions on Iran when receiving payments on behalf of an Iranian company; (ii) was aware of, and actively participated in, the violations; and (iii) “harmed the objectives of the ITSR by enabling the evasion of sanctions by an Iranian company.” OFAC also considered various mitigating factors, including that the individual did not receive a penalty notice, finding of violation, or cautionary letter from OFAC in the past five years, and is a natural person with a limited ability to pay.

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

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  • FinCEN issues NPRM on beneficial ownership

    Financial Crimes

    On December 7, FinCEN issued a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) implementing the beneficial ownership information reporting provisions of the Corporate Transparency Act (CTA). As previously covered by InfoBytes, the CTA is included within the Anti-Money Laundering Act of 2021, which was enacted in January as part of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2021. The proposed rule implements the reporting requirements under the CTA and “reflects FinCEN’s careful consideration of public comments received in response to its April advance notice of proposed rulemaking on the same topic.” (Covered by InfoBytes here.) Among other things, the NPRM addresses who must report beneficial ownership information, when to report it, and what information they must provide. According to FinCEN, gathering “this information and providing access to law enforcement, financial institutions, and other authorized users will diminish the ability of malign actors to hide, move, and enjoy the proceeds of illicit activities.” Treasury Deputy Secretary Wally Adeyemo released a statement noting that Treasury, through the public comments gathered from the NPRM, intends to “develop a regulatory approach that will safeguard the integrity of our markets and root out corruption in American real estate.” The comment period ends 60 days after publication in the Federal Register.

    Financial Crimes FinCEN Agency Rule-Making & Guidance Of Interest to Non-US Persons Anti-Money Laundering Act of 2020 Anti-Money Laundering Bank Secrecy Act Beneficial Ownership Federal Register Corporate Transparency Act

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  • OFAC sanctions 15 international human rights abusers

    Financial Crimes

    On December 7, the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) announced sanctions pursuant to Executive Order 13818 targeting fifteen actors across three countries under the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act. According to OFAC, the sanctioned actors are associated with human rights abuse and repressive acts targeting civilians, political opponents, and peaceful protestors. As a result of the sanctions, all property and interests in property belonging to the sanctioned 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 noted that U.S. persons are prohibited from participating in transactions with these persons, which includes “the making of any contribution or provision of funds, goods, or services by, to, or for the benefit of any blocked person or the receipt of any contribution or provision of funds, goods or services from any such person.”

    Financial Crimes OFAC Department of Treasury OFAC Sanctions Of Interest to Non-US Persons Iran Syria Uganda OFAC Designations SDN List

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  • OFAC sanctions Houthi military commander

    Financial Crimes

    On November 18, the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) announced sanctions pursuant to Executive Order 13611 against a key military official connected to the seizure of property in Yemen, who used a variety of unlawful tactics including extortion. According to OFAC, the sanctioned individual was the commander of the Houthi-controlled military logistics support organization, where he assisted the Houthis in acquiring smuggled weapons, and served as the officer responsible for managing assets and funds controlled by the Houthis. As a result of the sanctions, all property and interests in property belonging to the sanctioned individual, and “any entities that are owned, directly or indirectly, 50 percent or more” by the individual that are subject to U.S. jurisdiction are blocked and must be reported to OFAC. OFAC’s announcement further noted that OFAC regulations “generally prohibit” U.S. persons from participating in transactions with designated persons unless exempt or otherwise authorized by a general or specific license and warned foreign financial institutions that if they knowingly facilitate significant transactions for any of the designated persons, they may be subject to U.S. correspondent account or payable-through account sanctions.

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

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  • OFAC amends Syrian Sanctions Regulations

    Financial Crimes

    On November 24, the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) announced an amendment to the Syrian Sanctions Regulations, 31 CFR part 542, which expands an existing authorization related to certain activities of nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) in Syria. The final rule permits NGOs to engage in additional transactions and activities in support of the not-for-profit activities. Additionally, OFAC published two new FAQs (see 937 and 938), which provide further information on Syrian sanctions. The final rule takes effect November 26.

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

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