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OFAC amends Venezuela-related general licenses; temporarily extends two Ukraine-related general licenses
On June 26, the Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) announced General License (GL) 13B, which supersedes and replaces GL 13A. GL 13B expires on October 25. Additionally, OFAC extended the expiration date to November 8 of two Ukraine-related GLs by issuing GL 13L, which supersedes GL 13K, and GL 15F, which supersedes GL 15 E. OFAC also noted that GL 15F includes a new authorization for certain safety-related activity.
On June 21, the Secretary of the U.S. Department of the Treasury issued a statement confirming that FATF members agreed to regulate and supervise virtual asset financial activities and related service providers. On the same day, FATF issued a statement noting that it “adopted and issued an Interpretive Note to Recommendation 15 on New Technologies (INR. 15) that further clarifies the FATF’s previous amendments to the international Standards relating to virtual assets and describes how countries and obliged entities must comply with the relevant FATF Recommendations to prevent the misuse of virtual assets for money laundering and terrorist financing and the financing of proliferation.” As previously covered by InfoBytes, in October 2018, FATF urged all countries to take measures to prevent virtual assets and cryptocurrencies from being used to finance crime and terrorism and updated The FATF Recommendations to add new definitions for “virtual assets” and “virtual asset service providers” and to clarify how the recommendations apply to financial activities involving virtual assets and cryptocurrencies.
According to FATF announcement, INR. 15 establishes “binding measures,” which require countries to, among other things, (i) assess and mitigate risks associated with virtual asset activities and service providers; (ii) license or register service providers and subject them to supervision; (iii) implement sanctions and other enforcement measures when service providers fail to comply with an anti-money laundering/combating the financing of terrorism (AML/CFT) obligation; and (iv) ensure that service providers implement the full range of AML/CFT preventive measures under the FATF Recommendations, including customer due diligence, record-keeping, suspicious transaction reporting, and screening all transactions for compliance with targeted financial sanctions.
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.
On June 19, the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) announced its decision to sanction a Russian financial entity, pursuant to Executive Order 13382, for allegedly “having provided, or attempted to provide, financial, material, technological, or other support for, or goods or services” on behalf of an entity that is owned and controlled by North Korea’s primary foreign exchange bank. According to OFAC, since at least 2017 and continuing through 2018, the Russian entity has provided multiple accounts to the North Korean entity, which has “enabled North Korea to circumvent U.S. and UN sanctions to gain access to the global financial system in order to generate revenue for the Kim regime’s nuclear program.” Pursuant to OFAC’s sanctions, all property and interests in property of the designated persons within U.S. jurisdiction must be blocked and reported to OFAC. OFAC notes that its regulations “generally prohibit” U.S. persons from participating in transactions with these individuals and entities.
On June 20, the Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) issued a final interim rule amending its Reporting, Procedures and Penalties Regulations, which set forth the standard reporting and recordkeeping requirements, license application, and other procedures relevant to the economic sanctions programs administered by OFAC. Among other things, the final interim rule: (i) expands the information that must be included in reports on blocked property and rejected transactions; (ii) includes details on the information that must be included when OFAC requires a report that property has been unblocked; (iii) revises procedures for (a) reporting on rejected transactions; (b) licensing of otherwise prohibited transactions; and (c) releasing blocked funds; and (iv) clarifies rules governing the availability of information under the Freedom of Information Act. Importantly, the revisions clarify that all U.S. persons must report transactions that have been rejected for sanctions compliance reasons. Previously, the requirement was thought to apply only to U.S. financial institutions. The final interim rule will take effect upon publication in the Federal Register, which is scheduled for June 21.
OFAC sanctions entity and two individuals for trafficking weapons to IRGC-QF and facilitating sanctions evasion
On June 12, the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) imposed sanctions on a resource trading company and its two Iraqi associates, for trafficking “hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of weapons” to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Qods Force (IRGC-QF) and facilitating access to the Iraqi financial system to evade sanctions.
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 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. 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.
On June 11, the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) announced additions to the Specially Designated Nationals List pursuant to Executive Orders (E.O.) 13573 and 13582. OFAC’s additions to the list include 13 entities and three individuals associated with an international network benefiting the Assad regime in Syria. According to OFAC, a Syrian business developer and his associated businesses have “leveraged the atrocities of the Syrian conflict into a profit-generating enterprise.” As a result, “all property and interests in property of these individuals and entities that are in the United States or in the possession or control of U.S. persons must be blocked and reported to OFAC.”
See here for continuing InfoBytes coverage of actions related to Syria.
On June 7, the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) announced an approximately $400,000 settlement with a global money services business for alleged violations of the Global Terrorism Sanctions Regulations (GTSR). The settlement resolves potential civil liability for the money services business' processing of certain transactions totaling roughly $1.275 million. According to OFAC, the transactions were paid out to third-party, non-designated beneficiaries who collected their remittances from a company in Gambia that OFAC designated pursuant to the GTSR in December 2010. Notwithstanding this designation, the money services business continued processing payments to the company until March 2015. In arriving at the settlement amount, OFAC considered various mitigating factors, including the fact that the money services business voluntarily self-disclosed the issue to OFAC. OFAC also considered various aggravating factors, including that the money services business could have identified that the company was a sanctions target with the exercise of reasonable due diligence.
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.
On May 29, the Department of Treasury announced the establishment of a Financial Innovation Partnership (FIP) between the U.S. and the UK. The FIP will focus on expanding bilateral financial services collaborative efforts to study emerging fintech innovation trends and share information and expertise on regulatory practices. Specifically, the FIP will focus on (i) regulatory engagement, including building upon “existing regulatory cooperation by discussing regulatory developments and sharing experiences on technical issues related to innovation in financial services,” and (ii) commercial engagement, such as providing cross-border opportunities for private sector companies to engage with industry associations as well as market participants. The FIP was announced during a meeting of the U.S.-UK Regulatory Working Group, which, a week earlier, held discussions in Washington, D.C. on the outlook for financial regulatory reforms, future priorities, regulatory cooperation, and possible implications of the UK’s exit from the EU on financial stability and cross-border financial regulation.
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