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  • OFAC sanctions Iranian-backed Hizballah officials

    Financial Crimes

    On July 9, the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) announced sanctions pursuant to Executive Order 13224 against three Iranian-backed Hizballah political and security figures for “exploit[ing] Lebanon’s financial and security elements” in furtherance of Hizballah’s and Iran’s activities in support of terrorists and acts of terrorism. As a result of the sanctions, “all property and interests in property of these targets that are in the United States or in the possession or control of U.S. persons must be blocked and reported to OFAC.” OFAC notes that its regulations “generally prohibit” U.S. persons from participating in transactions with the designated individuals. The designated individuals are also subject to secondary sanctions pursuant to the Hizballah Financial Sanctions Regulations, which implement the Hizballah International Financing Prevention Act of 2015, and allow OFAC the authority to “prohibit or impose strict conditions on the opening or maintaining in the United States of a correspondent account or a payable-through account by a foreign financial institution that knowingly facilitates a significant transaction for Hizballah, or a person acting on behalf of or at the direction of, or owned or controlled by, Hizballah.”

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

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  • President Trump imposes new sanctions on Iran; OFAC announces designations

    Financial Crimes

    On June 24, President Trump issued Executive Order (E.O.) 13876, “Imposing Sanctions with Respect to Iran,” which: (i) imposes sanctions on Iran’s Supreme Leader’s Office (SLO); and (ii) targets persons appointed to certain official or other positions by the Supreme Leader and/or his office for allegedly taking actions to “destabilize the Middle East, promote international terrorism, and advance Iran’s ballistic missile program, and Iran’s irresponsible and provocative actions in and over international waters.” Among other things, E.O. 13876 authorizes the Secretaries of Treasury and State to impose sanctions on a foreign financial institution if it is determined that it has knowingly conducted or facilitated any significant financial transactions in these sectors, or for or on behalf of a blocked person. These sanctions would prohibit the opening of, or impose strict conditions on maintaining, a correspondent account or payable-through account by such foreign financial institutions in the United States.

    On the same day, the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) designated eight senior commanders of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) pursuant to E.O. 13224, which “provides a means by which to disrupt the financial support network for terrorists and terrorist organizations.” According to OFAC, the sanctions are meant to reinforce the President’s newly issued E.O. 13876. As a result of the designations, “all property and interests in property of these targets that are in the United States or in the possession or control of U.S. persons must be blocked and reported to OFAC.” OFAC noted that persons who engage in transactions with the designated individuals and entities may be exposed to sanctions themselves or subject to enforcement action.

    Financial Crimes Department of Treasury Of Interest to Non-US Persons OFAC Executive Order Sanctions Iran

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  • OFAC sanctions Iran’s largest petrochemical holding group for funding IRGC

    Financial Crimes

    On June 7, the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) announced sanctions against Iran’s largest petrochemical holding group for providing financial support to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), an entity targeted for sanctions under OFAC’s Iran-related sanctions. In addition, OFAC designated the holding group’s network of 39 subsidiary petrochemical companies and foreign-based sales agents. According to OFAC, profits derived from the holding group’s activities “support the IRGC’s full range of nefarious activities, including the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction . . . and their means of delivery, support for terrorism, and a variety of human rights abuses, at home and abroad.”

    As a result, all property and interests in property belonging to the identified entities subject to U.S. jurisdiction are blocked and must be reported to OFAC, and U.S. persons are generally prohibited from transacting with them. Moreover, OFAC warned foreign financial institutions that they may be subject to U.S. correspondent account or payable-through account sanctions—which, if imposed, could restrict their access to the U.S. financial system—if they knowingly facilitate significant transactions for any of the designated entities. OFAC further issued a reminder that as of November 5, 2018, purchasing, acquiring, selling, transporting, or marketing petrochemical products from Iran is sanctionable under OFAC’s sanctions against Iran (covered by InfoBytes here).

    Visit here for additional InfoBytes coverage of actions related to Iran.

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

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  • OFAC issues Finding of Violation, no penalties, against bank for alleged Iranian sanctions violations

    Financial Crimes

    On May 28, the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) announced a Finding of Violation against a U.S. bank, acting as a trustee for a customer, for violations of the Iranian Transactions and Sanctions Regulations (ITSR). According to the announcement, OFAC’s Finding of Violation was based on the fact that the bank processed at least 45 pension payments totaling over $11,000 to a U.S. citizen with a U.S. bank account, but who was residing in Iran. According to OFAC, the bank appears to have known that it was processing payments for the benefit of a person in Iran, not only because its internal system indicated that the individual’s address was located in Tehran, but also because the bank’s sanctions screening software produced an alert on each of the 45 payments. These alerts, however, were reviewed by compliance personnel who were not sanctions specialists instead of the bank’s central sanctions compliance unit. After learning of and reporting the issue to OFAC, the bank modified its review and reporting process to ensure that retirement payments are screened by the right screening platform and that sanctions alerts are handled through the appropriate process, including review by compliance specialists with expertise in sanctions.

    When issuing a Finding of Violation against the bank, as opposed to a civil money penalty, OFAC considered the fact that, among other things, (i) no managers or supervisors appear to have been aware of the conduct that led to the violations; (ii) the payments at issue may not have actually been transferred to Iran; (iii) the bank took remedial action in response to the violations; and (iv) the bank cooperated with OFAC by self-disclosing the alleged violations and agreeing to tolling the matter with extensions.

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

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  • President Trump issues new Iran Executive Order targeting Iran's metal sector; OFAC publishes related FAQs

    Financial Crimes

    On May 8, President Trump issued Executive Order 13871 (E.O. 13871) authorizing the imposition of sanctions on persons determined to operate in Iran’s iron, steel, aluminum, and copper sectors. The order is intended to target sectors of the Iranian economy that OFAC has identified as providing “funding and support for the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, terrorist groups and networks, campaigns of regional aggression, and military expansion.” Among other things, E.O. 13871 authorizes the Secretaries of Treasury and State to impose sanctions on a foreign financial institution if it is determined that it has knowingly conducted or facilitated any significant financial transactions in these sectors, or for or on behalf of a blocked person. These sanctions are intend to curtail such institutions’ access to the U.S. financial system by prohibiting the opening of, or impose strict conditions on maintaining, a correspondent account or payable-through account by such foreign financial institutions in the United States.

    The same day, the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) released a set of FAQs connected to the issuance of E.O. 13871, including a discussion of the relevant 90-day wind-down period for affected transactions as well as sanction exceptions.

    Visit here for additional InfoBytes coverage of actions related to Iran.

    Financial Crimes OFAC Department of Treasury Sanctions Of Interest to Non-US Persons Iran Executive Order Trump

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  • German-headquartered financial institution to pay $1.3 billion for Iran sanctions violations

    Financial Crimes

    On April 15, U.S. regulators announced settlements totaling $1.3 billion with several banking units of a German-headquartered financial institution to resolve allegations by the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), the DOJ, the Federal Reserve Board, the New York Department of Financial Services (NYDFS), and the New York County District Attorney’s Office of apparent violations of multiple sanctions programs, including those related to Burma, Cuba, Iran, Libya, Sudan, and Syria. According to OFAC’s announcement, between January 2007 and December 2011, the institution’s banking units in Germany, Austria, and Italy processed thousands of payments through U.S. financial institutions on behalf of sanctioned entities “in a manner that did not disclose underlying sanctioned persons or countries to U.S. financial institutions which were acting as financial intermediaries.”

    According to the settlement agreements (see here, here, and here), OFAC considered various aggravating factors, and noted, among other things, that the institution’s banking units failed to sufficiently enforce policies addressing OFAC sanctions concerns or restrict the processing of transactions in U.S. dollars involving persons or countries subject to sanctions programs administered by OFAC. Additionally, OFAC asserted that the Austrian banking unit claimed on several occasions that OFAC’s sanctions programs “were not legally binding or relevant to [the bank].” OFAC further stated that while the banking units failed to voluntarily self-disclose the alleged violations, they have each agreed to implement and maintain compliance commitments to minimize the risk of the recurrence of the alleged conduct.

    Financial Crimes Of Interest to Non-US Persons OFAC Department of Treasury Settlement Iran Sanctions DOJ Federal Reserve NYDFS

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  • U.K. subsea services company and subsidiaries to pay $440,000 for Cuban and Iranian sanctions violations

    Financial Crimes

    On April 11, the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) announced two settlements totaling more than $440,000 with a U.K. subsea services company and certain subsidiaries that operate in the oil and gas industry. The first settlement, for $227,500, resolves potential civil liability for seven alleged violations of the Cuban Assets Control Regulations (CACR). According to OFAC, two of the company's Malaysian affiliates produced analytical reports and conducted workshops for oil well drilling projects in Cuban territorial waters related to projects managed by companies including Venezuela’s state-owned oil company, which was previously designated by OFAC in January (see InfoBytes coverage here). OFAC considered various aggravating factors—including that the alleged violations constitute an egregious case—and noted that the company/subsidiaries “willfully violated U.S. sanctions laws and regulations when they knowingly dealt with Cuban interests despite prior notification of their unlawfulness.” OFAC also noted that senior managers “deliberately concealed their dealings with Cuba on multiple occasions.” OFAC considered numerous mitigating factors, including the company/subsidiaries’ voluntarily self-disclosure of the apparent violations and remedial efforts taken to avoid similar violations from occurring in the future.

    The same day OFAC announced a second settlement, this time for $213,866, which resolves potential civil liability for 13 alleged CACR violations. The settlement also resolves three alleged violations of the Iranian Transactions and Sanctions Regulations (ITSR) by the company’s U.S.-based parent company. According to OFAC, the company issued sanctions compliance guidance to all of its subsidiaries with instructions that transactions with Cuba and Iran (including indirect third parties) were prohibited. However, certain subsidiaries disregarded the guidance and allegedly engaged in transactions within Cuban and Iranian territorial waters. In reaching the settlement amount, OFAC determined, among other things, that (i) the company voluntarily self-disclosed the apparent violations; (ii) the alleged violations constitute a non-egregious case; (iii) the subsidiaries have confirmed the conduct has been terminated; and (iv) remedial efforts have been undertaken to minimize the risk of similar violations from occurring in the future.

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

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  • London-based financial institution to pay $1.1 billion for U.S. sanctions violations

    Financial Crimes

    On April 9, U.S. and U.K regulators announced that a London-based global financial institution would pay $1.1 billion to settle allegations by the DOJ, the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), the Federal Reserve Board, the New York Department of Financial Services (NYDFS), the Manhattan District Attorney, and the U.K.’s Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) for allegedly violating multiple sanctions programs, including those related to Burma, Cuba, Iran, Sudan, and Syria. According to the OFAC announcement, from June 2009 until May 2014, the institution processed thousands of transactions involving persons or countries subject to sanctions programs administered by OFAC, but the majority of the actions at issue concern Iran-related accounts maintained by the institution’s Dubai branches. OFAC alleged the Dubai branches processed transactions through the institution’s New York branches on behalf of customers that were physically located or ordinarily resident in Iran.

    According to the $639 million settlement agreement, OFAC noted, among other things, that the institution “acted with reckless disregard and failed to exercise a minimal degree of caution or care” with respect to the actions at issue. Moreover, OFAC alleged that the institution had actual knowledge or reason to know its compliance program was “inadequate to manage the [the institution]’s risk.” OFAC considered numerous mitigating factors, including that the institution’s substantial cooperation throughout the investigation and its undertaking of remedial efforts to avoid similar violations from occurring in the future.

    The $639 million penalty will be deemed satisfied by the institution’s payments to other U.S. regulators, which includes, $240 million forfeiture and $480 million fine to the DOJ, $164 million fine to the Federal Reserve, and $180 million fine to the NYDFS. The institution also settled with the FCA for $133 million. The settlement illustrates the risks to foreign financial institutions associated with compliance lapses when processing transactions through the U.S. financial system.

    Financial Crimes OFAC Department of Treasury Sanctions DOJ Federal Reserve NYDFS UK FCA Settlement Of Interest to Non-US Persons

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

    Financial Crimes

    On March 27, the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) announced a $1,869,144 settlement with a U.S. tool manufacturer and its China-based subsidiary for 23 alleged violations of the Iranian Transactions and Sanctions Regulations (ITSR). The settlement resolves potential civil liability for the company’s alleged transactions, valued at over $3.2 million, involving the subsidiary’s exporting and attempts to export 23 shipments of power tools and spare parts “with knowledge that such goods were intended specifically for supply, transshipment, or reexportation, directly or indirectly, to Iran.” Because the ITSR generally prohibit non-U.S. subsidiaries of U.S. persons from knowingly engaging in transactions with Iran, this settlement illustrates the importance of implementing OFAC compliance measures at such subsidiaries.

    In arriving at the settlement amount, OFAC considered various aggravating factors and characterized the alleged violations as “an egregious case.” While the company voluntarily self-disclosed the alleged violations on behalf of its subsidiary, OFAC stated, among other things, that the company allegedly failed to implement procedures to monitor and audit the subsidiary’s compliance with applicable sanctions policies post-acquisition. Moreover, OFAC claimed that the subsidiary’s senior management continued to export goods to Iran, despite executing written agreements stating they would not engage in such conduct and attending compliance training sessions.

    OFAC also considered numerous mitigating factors, including that (i) neither the company nor the subsidiary have received a penalty or finding of a violation in the five years prior to the transactions at issue; (ii) the company immediately implemented “substantive remedial efforts,” including halting all of the subsidiary’s exports and hiring an independent investigator; and (iii) the company cooperated with OFAC’s investigation. OFAC noted that the company has committed to taking corrective actions to minimize the risk of recurring conduct.

    Visit here for additional InfoBytes coverage of actions related to Iran.

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

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  • OFAC sanctions individuals and entities for transferring over a billion dollars and euros to IRGC

    Financial Crimes

    On March 26, the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) announced sanctions against “25 individuals and entities, including a network of Iran, UAE, and Turkey-based front companies,” for allegedly transferring “over a billion dollars and euros” in funds to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and Iran's Ministry of Defense and Armed Forces Logistics (MODAFL). Among other things, the designated individuals and entities also procured vehicles worth millions of dollars for MODAFL, which was also sanctioned, along with Iran’s IRGC-controlled bank and currency exchange arm, for allegedly providing assistance and banking services to the IRGC-Qods Force. According to OFAC, the sanctions were issued pursuant to Executive Order 13224, which “provides a means by which to disrupt the financial support network for terrorists and terrorist organizations.” As a result, all property and interests in property belonging to the identified individuals and entities subject to U.S. jurisdiction are blocked and must be reported to OFAC, and U.S. persons are generally prohibited from entering into transactions with them. In addition, OFAC noted that persons who engage in transactions with the designated individuals and entities may be exposed to sanctions themselves or subject to enforcement action. Moreover, OFAC warned foreign financial institutions that, unless an exemption applies, they may be subject to U.S. sanctions if they knowingly facilitate significant transactions for any of the designed individuals or entities.

    Visit here for continuing InfoBytes coverage of actions related to Iran.

    Financial Crimes Iran Sanctions OFAC Department of Treasury

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