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  • OFAC updates FAQs related to Iranian humanitarian goods manufacturing

    Financial Crimes

    On June 5, the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) issued updated Iran-related FAQs related to Executive Order (E.O.) 13902 concerning the treatment of Iranian manufacturers that provide humanitarian goods. As previously covered by InfoBytes, E.O, 13902 authorizes the Secretary of the Treasury, in conjunction with the Secretary of State, to impose asset blocking sanctions on any person determined to operate in the construction, mining, manufacturing or textile sectors of the Iranian economy, or any additional sector as they may jointly determine. Additionally, EO 13902 authorizes the imposition of certain sanctions on any person determined to have engaged in, or any foreign financial institution determined to have knowingly facilitated, a significant transaction involving one of the aforementioned sectors of the Iranian economy. The FAQs state that OFAC will not target persons in Iran manufacturing humanitarian goods, such as “medicines, medical devices, or products used for sanitation or hygiene” as long as the products are “solely for use in Iran and not for export from Iran.” The FAQs also define Iranian economy sectors, specify what constitutes as “significant goods or services,” and clarify the interpretation of “‘knowingly’ and ‘significantly reduced’” for purposes of E.O. 13902. Additionally, on June 8, OFAC added several Iran-related designations to its Specially Designated Nationals List.

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

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  • OFAC publishes Syria-related sanctions regulations

    Financial Crimes

    On June 4, the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) announced the issuance of regulations to implement Executive Order (E.O.) 13894: “Blocking Property and Suspending Entry of Certain Persons Contributing to the Situation in Syria.” E.O. 13894 was issued last October following the determination that the situation in and in relation to Syria “undermines the campaign to defeat [ISIS].” The final rule implementing the regulations, which was published in an abbreviated form to provide immediate guidance to the public, took effect June 5. OFAC states it “intends to supplement these regulations with a more comprehensive set of regulations, which may include additional interpretive and definitional guidance, general licenses, and statements of licensing policy.”

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

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  • NYDFS and French regulator sign fintech MOU

    Fintech

    On June 3, NYDFS and France’s Autorité de Contrôle Prudentiel et de Résolution (ACPR) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to help ease fintech innovators’ entry into the New York and French markets. This is the first fintech cooperation agreement signed by the ACPR with a U.S. regulator. Under the terms of the MOU, the two regulators will (i) refer companies to one another for potential market entry; (ii) “exchange information about regulatory and policy issues”; (iii) ensure innovators in both jurisdictions receive equal levels of support; and (iv) “share regulatory and supervisory expertise and best practices.” According to NYDFS, the regulators aim to encourage and support financial innovation, enhance consumer protections, and encourage “healthy market competition in their respective markets.”

    Fintech NYDFS State Issues Of Interest to Non-US Persons France

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  • OFAC sanctions oil companies for supporting Maduro regime, blocks four vessels

    Financial Crimes

    On June 2, the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) sanctioned four companies for operating in the oil sector of the Venezuelan economy (which provides “financial resources to the illegitimate regime of President Maduro”) and identified four vessels as blocked property, pursuant to Executive Order 13850. As a result, all property and interests in property belonging to the identified entities subject to U.S. jurisdiction are blocked, and “any entities that are owned, directly or indirectly, 50 percent or more by the designated entities are also blocked.” U.S. persons are generally prohibited from dealing with any property or interests in property of blocked or designated persons.

    Financial Crimes OFAC Sanctions Venezuela Of Interest to Non-US Persons

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  • OFAC issues Iran nuclear FAQ

    Financial Crimes

    On May 27, the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), in response to the Department of State’s announcement of an end to certain Iran nuclear-related waivers, issued a new FAQ and added two individuals to the Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons List (SDN List). FAQ 829 provides a 60-day wind-down period for persons currently engaged in activities permitted by these waivers; however, OFAC cautions that such activities should be wound down by July 27 or persons risk exposure to sanctions under U.S. law absent another waiver or exception. The FAQ notes that the Iran Freedom and Counter-Proliferation Act “provides for sanctions on persons determined to knowingly provide significant financial, material, technological, or other support to, or goods or services in support of any activity or transaction on behalf of or for the benefit of, an Iranian person on OFAC’s SDN List.”

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

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  • OFAC designates Iran’s interior minister and senior law enforcement officials for human rights abuses

    Financial Crimes

    On May 20, the U.S. Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), pursuant to Executive Order 13553, sanctioned Iran’s interior minister, in addition to seven senior officials of Iran’s Law Enforcement Forces (LEF), a provincial commander of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, and a foundation along with its director and members of the board of trustees, for serious human rights abuses against Iranians. According to OFAC, the foundation is controlled by LEF and plays an active role in Iran’s energy, construction, services, technology, and banking industries. As a result of the sanctions, “all property and interests in property of these persons that are in the United States or in the possession or control of U.S. persons must be blocked and reported to OFAC.” OFAC further noted that its regulations “generally prohibit all dealings by U.S. persons or within (or transiting) the United States that involve any property or interests in property of blocked or designated persons,” and warned foreign financial institutions that knowingly facilitating significant transactions or providing significant financial services to the designated individuals may subject them to U.S. correspondent account or payable-through sanctions.

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

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  • Treasury designates Chinese GSA for providing support to Iranian airline

    Financial Crimes

    On May 19, the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) designated a China-based company pursuant to Executive Order (E.O.) 13224 for allegedly acting as a general sales agent (GSA) for or on behalf of an Iranian airline. According to OFAC, this is the seventh time a GSA has been designated to the airline since 2018, which was previously designated under E.O.s 13224 and E.O, 13382 for providing support to Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Qods Force. OFAC emphasized that entities operating in the airline industry “should conduct due diligence to avoid performing services, including GSA services, for or on behalf of a designated person, which may be sanctionable,” and referred the industry to a 2019 advisory that outlined potential civil and criminal consequences for providing unauthorized support to or for designated Iranian airlines.

    As a result of the sanctions, “all property and interests in property of [the GSA] that are in the United States or in the possession or control of U.S. persons must be blocked and reported to OFAC.” OFAC further noted that its regulations “generally prohibit all dealings by U.S. persons or within (or transiting) the United States that involve property or interests in property of blocked or designated persons,” and warned foreign financial institutions that knowingly facilitating significant transactions or providing significant financial services to designated individuals may subject them to U.S. correspondent account or payable-through sanctions.

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

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  • SBA clarifies PPP eligibility for foreign affiliates

    Federal Issues

    On May 21, the SBA recently published an interim final rule (IFR), which addresses the eligibility requirements related to employees of a Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) borrower’s foreign affiliates. The SBA reiterated in the IFR that a small business must include foreign affiliate employees when calculating how many people it employs for purposes of determining if the business meets the PPP eligibility requirement of 500 or fewer employees. The SBA acknowledged, however, that previous guidance (covered by InfoBytes here) may have created “reasonable borrower confusion,” so in “an exercise of enforcement discretion,” the agency reiterated that the “SBA will not find any borrower that applied for a PPP loan prior to May 5, 2020 to be ineligible based on the borrower’s exclusion of non-US employees from the borrower’s calculation of its employee headcount if the borrower (together with its affiliates) had no more than 500 employees whose principal place of residence is in the United States.” The SBA further determined that these borrowers will “not be deemed to have made an inaccurate certification of eligibility solely on that basis.”

    The IFR takes effect upon publication in the Federal Register and is applicable to PPP applications submitted through June 30, 2020, or when program funding is exhausted. Comments are due within 30 days.

    Federal Issues Department of Treasury SBA Small Business Lending CARES Act Covid-19 Of Interest to Non-US Persons

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  • Global advisory addresses illicit shipping and sanctions evasion practices

    Financial Crimes

    On May 14, the U.S. Departments of State and Treasury, along with the U.S. Coast Guard, issued a global advisory warning the maritime industry of deceptive shipping practices used by Iran, North Korea, and Syria to evade economic sanctions. The “Sanctions Advisory for the Maritime Industry, Energy and Metals Sectors, and Related Communities” expands upon previously issued advisories and discusses due diligence approaches that entities, including financial institutions, should employ to monitor illicit activity and mitigate the risk of potentially engaging in prohibited activities or transactions. Among other things, the advisory provides a list of general compliance practices that may help entities “in more effectively identifying potential sanctions evasion.” These include: (i) institutionalizing sanctions compliance programs; (ii) establishing Automatic Identification System (AIS) best practices and contractual requirements to monitor for manipulations and disruptions, which may be an indication of potential illicit or sanctionable activity; (iii) monitoring ships throughout the entire transaction lifecycle, including those leased to third parties; (iv) knowing your customers and counterparties; (v) exercising supply chain due diligence; (vi) incorporating these best practices into contractual language; and (vii) engaging in industry information sharing of challenges, threats, and risk mitigation measures.

    See here for previous InfoBytes coverage on global shipping advisories.

    Financial Crimes OFAC Sanctions Department of Treasury Department of State Of Interest to Non-US Persons North Korea Iran Syria

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  • FinCEN advisory warns of Covid-19 medical scams, provides guidance on reporting suspicious activity

    Federal Issues

    On May 18, the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) issued an advisory and companion notice on medical scams related to the Covid-19 pandemic that provide detailed instructions for financial institutions filing reports of Covid-19-related suspicious activities. The advisory outlines numerous red flag indicators and case studies addressing Covid-19 medical-related fraudulent activity to assist financial institutions in detecting, preventing, and reporting suspicious transactions. FinCEN also encourages financial institutions to consider additional contextual information, such as a customer’s historical financial activity and whether a customer exhibits multiple indicators, before making a determination that a transaction is suspicious. FinCEN further advises financial institutions—when taking a risk-based approach to Bank Secrecy Act compliance—to perform additional inquiries and conduct investigations as necessary.

    The companion notice provides, among other things, that suspicious activity reports (SAR) should only include Covid-19 statements tied to suspicious activity and that statements related to Covid-19’s impact on SAR filing abilities should not be included. However, FinCEN states that filers who previously included these references are not required to file corrected reports. For fraud schemes, including those that exploit the Covid-19 pandemic, FinCEN reiterates that full details related to SAR filings and supporting documentation should be submitted as quickly as possible. The notice also addresses information sharing among financial institutions and provides contact information for reporting Covid-19-related criminal activity to other agencies.

    Federal Issues FinCEN Covid-19 Financial Crimes Bank Secrecy Act SARs Of Interest to Non-US Persons

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