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On April 7, the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) announced sanctions pursuant to Executive Order 13581, “Blocking Property of Transnational Criminal Organizations,” against a Pakistani national and a transnational criminal organization (TCO). In addition, OFAC designated three individuals and one entity associated with the TCO. According to OFAC, Treasury’s designation of this human smuggling organization as a significant TCO is an “important step taken alongside our partners, towards disrupting . . . operations based in Pakistan and around the world.” As a result of the sanctions, all assets belonging to the designated persons that are in the United States or in the possession or control of U.S. persons must be blocked and reported to OFAC. U.S. persons are generally prohibited from engaging in dealings involving any property or interests in property of the blocked or designated persons.
On April 6, the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) announced sanctions pursuant to the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act against two members of a major Mexico-based drug trafficking cartel, along with another individual responsible for facilitating travel related to the illicit activities for senior cartel members and their allies. In addition, OFAC designated two businesses located in Mexico. According to OFAC, the designations serve as “a reminder that Treasury will continue to sanction those providing support to [the cartel], whether that person is a violent actor or a complicit businessperson.” 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. U.S. persons are also generally prohibited from engaging in any dealings involving the property or interests in property of blocked or designated persons.
On April 5, the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) published two new Syria Frequently Asked Questions, FAQs 884 and 885. FAQ 884 relates to non-U.S. persons’, including nongovernmental organizations’ (NGOs) and foreign financial institutions’ exposure to U.S. secondary sanctions pursuant to the Caesar Syria Civilian Protection Act of 2019 (Caesar Act) for activities that would be authorized under the Syrian Sanctions Regulations (SySR), while FAQ 885 governs whether U.S. and non-U.S. persons (including NGO and foreign financial institutions) may facilitate certain humanitarian assistance to Syria without the risk of sanctions. OFAC clarified, among other things, that “non-U.S. persons, including NGOs and foreign financial institutions, would not risk exposure to sanctions under the Caesar Act for engaging in activity, or facilitating transactions and payments for such activity, that is authorized for U.S. persons under a general license (GL) issued pursuant to the SySR.” With respect to certain humanitarian assistance, OFAC explained that “[t]he export of U.S.-origin food and most medicines to Syria is not prohibited and does not require a Department of Commerce Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) or OFAC license, and therefore non-U.S. persons would not risk exposure to sanctions under the [Caesar Act] for engaging in such activity.”
On March 24 and 25, EU and U.S. participants, including officials from the Treasury Department, Federal Reserve Board, CFTC, FDIC, SEC, and OCC, participated in the U.S.-EU Joint Financial Regulatory Forum to discuss topics of mutual interest, including those related to (i) “next steps” for Covid-19 recovery and for mitigating financial stability risks; (ii) “sustainable finance”; (iii) banking and insurance multilateral and bilateral engagement; (iv) capital market regulatory and supervisory cooperation; (v) regulatory and supervisory developments pertaining to financial innovation, including the importance of promoting ongoing “responsible innovation and international supervisory cooperation”; and (vi) anti-money laundering and countering the financing of terrorism (AML/CFT) issues, including “the potential for enhanced cooperation to combat money laundering and terrorist financing bilaterally and in the framework of [the Financial Action Task Force].” Participants also discussed possible responses to climate-related financial risks, as well as “the progress in their respective legislative and supervisory efforts to ensure a smooth transition away from LIBOR.”
On March 25, the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) announced sanctions pursuant to Executive Order (E.O.) 14014 against two military holding companies in Burma. According to OFAC, these sanctions specifically target “the Burmese military’s control of significant segments of the Burmese economy.” As a result of the sanctions, all property and interests in property belonging to the sanctioned entities subject to U.S. jurisdiction, which enjoy a privileged position in the Burmese economy, 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 generally prohibited from engaging in any dealings involving the property or interests in property of blocked or designated persons.
Concurrent with the sanctions, OFAC issued four general licenses (GL) and related FAQs: (i) GL 1, “Official Business of the United States Government”; (ii) GL 2, “Official Activities of Certain International Organizations and Other International Entities”; (iii) GL 3, “Certain Transactions in Support of Nongovernmental Organizations’ Activities”; and (iv) GL 4, “Authorizing the Wind Down of Transactions Involving Myanmar Economic Corporation and Myanma Economic Holdings Limited.” GLs 1, 2, and 3 authorize certain transactions prohibited by E.O. 14014 that are associated with, respectively, the official business of the U.S. government, the official business of certain international organizations and other international entities, and certain nongovernmental organizations’ activities. GL 4 authorizes, through June 22, transactions and activities ordinarily incident to the wind down of transactions involving the two sanctioned companies as well as any entity owned by 50 percent or more of the sanctioned companies. Additionally, FAQ 882 clarifies which organizations within the United Nations’ programs are covered by GL 2, whereas FAQ 883 stipulates that “wind down transactions may be processed through the U.S. financial system or involve U.S. persons, as long as the transactions comply with the terms and conditions in GL 4.”
On March 26, the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) announced a $950,000 settlement to resolve alleged violations of the Iranian Transactions and Sanctions Regulations with an Italian company that produces and reexports air pressure switches. According to OFAC’s accompanying web notice, between 2013 and 2017, the company allegedly “knowingly reexported 27 shipments of air pressure switches procured from a U.S. company intended for as many as ten customers in Iran and caused a U.S. company to indirectly export its goods to Iran.” OFAC also alleged that the company engaged in efforts to obfuscate its reexportation of goods from the U.S. to Iranian end-users by, among other things, having employees use deceptive replacement terms for Iran in communications with the U.S company in order to avoid referencing Iranian end-users, and requesting that the term “Made in USA” be removed from the switches to disguise their origin.
In arriving at the settlement amount, OFAC considered various aggravating factors, including that (i) the company willfully reexported air pressure switches even though it knew it was violating U.S. sanctions; (ii) company management “either failed to provide effective oversight of its employees and operations or chose to ignore these prohibited trade practices”; and (iii) the conduct caused over $2.5 million worth of goods to be diverted from the U.S. to Iran.
OFAC also considered various mitigating factors, including that the company (i) has not received a penalty notice from OFAC in the proceeding five years; (ii) ceased the conduct at issue and took remedial measures, including implementing a sanctions compliance program and agreeing to enhanced compliance commitments; and (iii) cooperated with OFAC’s investigation.
On March 22, the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) announced sanctions pursuant to Executive Order 14014 against two individuals and two entities connected to the Burmese military’s “repression of pro-democracy protests.” The sanctions follow previous actions taken by OFAC earlier this year against several individuals and entities (covered by InfoBytes here and here). 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, individually, or with other blocked persons,” subject to U.S. jurisdiction are blocked and must be reported to OFAC. U.S. persons are generally 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 license.
On March 22, the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) announced sanctions pursuant to Executive Order 13818 against two current Chinese government officials for alleged corruption violations of the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act. According to OFAC, the sanctioned persons are connected to serious human rights abuse against ethnic minorities, including Uyghurs, in the Xinjiang region. The sanctions follow previous OFAC designations taken against several other Chinese government entities and current or former government officials for similar corruption violations (covered by InfoBytes here and here). 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, subject to U.S. jurisdiction are blocked and must be reported to OFAC. OFAC notes that its regulations generally prohibit U.S. persons 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.”
On March 17, the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) added several Chinese citizens and Hong Kong nationals to the Specially Designated Nationals List. The individuals were designated under Executive Order (E.O.) 13936, which, among other things, authorizes the imposition of sanctions on persons who are determined to be responsible for or complicit in actions or policies that threaten the peace, security, stability, or autonomy of Hong Kong. Under E.O. 13936, “[a]ll property and interests in property that are in the United States, that hereafter come within the United States, or that are or hereafter come within the possession or control of any United States person, . . .are blocked and may not be transferred, paid, exported, withdrawn, or otherwise dealt in” with any foreign person identified to have engaged in the aforementioned activities.
On March 14, the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) published FAQs related to two Chinese military companies sanctioned pursuant to Executive Order (E.O.) 13959, “Addressing the Threat from Securities Investments that Finance Communist Chinese Military Companies.” FAQ 880 states that, following a court order preliminarily enjoining the implementation of E.O. 13959 against a previously sanctioned company, the prohibitions are no longer applicable pending further order of the court. FAQ 881 clarifies when prohibitions in E.O. 13959 will take effect with respect to a company that was initially erroneously named, then delisted, and then correctly named.
- Jonice Gray Tucker to join CFPB panel at CBA’s Washington Forum
- Jonice Gray Tucker to moderate “Pandemic relief response and lasting impacts on access, credit, banking, and equality” at the American Bar Association Business Law Section Spring Meeting
- Jeffrey P. Naimon to discuss "Post-pandemic CFPB exam preparation" at the Mortgage Bankers Association Spring Conference & Expo
- Jonice Gray Tucker to discuss "Making fair lending work for you" at the Mortgage Bankers Association Spring Conference & Expo
- Jonice Gray Tucker to discuss "Reading the tea leaves of President Biden’s initial financial appointees" at LendIt Fintech
- Moorari K. Shah to discuss “CA, NY, federal licensing and disclosure” at the Equipment Leasing & Finance Association Legal Forum
- Jonice Gray Tucker to discuss "Compliance under Biden" at the WSJ Risk & Compliance Forum
- Jonice Gray Tucker to discuss “The future of fair lending” at the Mortgage Bankers Association Legal Issues and Regulatory Compliance Conference