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  • OFAC sanctions Liberian officials

    Financial Crimes

    On August 15, the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) announced sanctions pursuant to Executive Order 13818 against two Liberian government officials under the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act. According to OFAC, the sanctioned individuals are involved in ongoing public corruption in Liberia, and the sanctions are intended “to target[] perpetrators of serious human rights abuse and corruption around the world.” As a result, all property, and interests in property of the designated individuals and entities, “and of any entities that are owned, directly or indirectly, 50 percent or more by them, individually, or with other blocked 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 transactions with the designated persons. OFAC further warned that engaging in certain transactions with the designated individuals entails risk of sanctions.

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

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  • OFAC sanctions “mixer” for laundering over $7 billion in virtual currency

    Financial Crimes

    On August 8, the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) announced sanctions pursuant to Executive Order 13694 against a virtual currency mixer accused of allegedly laundering more than $7 billion in virtual currency since 2019. According to OFAC, this amount includes more than $455 million stolen by a previously sanctioned Democratic People’s Republic of Korea state-sponsored hacking group (covered by InfoBytes here). OFAC stated that the designations resulted from the company “having materially assisted, sponsored, or provided financial, material, or technological support for, or goods or services to or in support of, a cyber-enabled activity originating from, or directed by persons located, in whole or in substantial part, outside the United States that is reasonably likely to result in, or has materially contributed to, a significant threat to the national security, foreign policy, or economic health or financial stability of the United States and that has the purpose or effect of causing a significant misappropriation of funds or economic resources, trade secrets, personal identifiers, or financial information for commercial or competitive advantage or private financial gain.” Under Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, Brian E. Nelson, added that the company “repeatedly failed to impose effective controls designed to stop it from laundering funds for malicious cyber actors on a regular basis,” and stressed that Treasury “will continue to aggressively pursue actions against mixers that launder virtual currency for criminals and those who assist them.” As previously covered by InfoBytes, in 2020, Treasury’s FinCEN penalized a bitcoin mixer $60 million for violating the Bank Secrecy Act.

    As a result of the sanctions, all property and interests in property of the sanctioned entity that are in the United States or in the possession or control of U.S. persons must be blocked and reported to OFAC, as well as “any entities that are owned, directly or indirectly, 50 percent or more by one or more blocked persons.” OFAC noted that its regulations prohibit U.S. persons from participating in transactions with designated persons unless authorized by a general or specific license issued by OFAC or exempt.

    Treasury further stressed that players in the virtual currency industry should take a risk-based approach for assessing risks associated with different virtual currency services, implementing measures to mitigate risks, and addressing the challenges anonymizing features can present to anti-money laundering/countering the financing of terrorism sanctions obligations. “[M]ixers should in general be considered as high-risk by virtual currency firms, which should only process transactions if they have appropriate controls in place to prevent mixers from being used to launder illicit proceeds,” Treasury said.

    Financial Crimes Digital Assets Department of Treasury OFAC Of Interest to Non-US Persons OFAC Sanctions OFAC Designations North Korea Virtual Currency Anti-Money Laundering Combating the Financing of Terrorism SDN List

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  • OFAC sanctions Russian companies and other entities

    Financial Crimes

    On August 1, the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) announced several new sanctions in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The new sanctions, issued pursuant to Executive Order 14024, target elites, a major multinational company, a sanctions evasion operation, and a yacht used by a sanctioned individual. The action was taken together with the U.S. Department of State, which imposed additional sanctions on entities and individuals, as well as visa restrictions. As a result of the sanctions, all property and interests in property belonging to the sanctioned persons that are in the U.S. or in the possession or control of U.S. persons, and “any entities that are owned, directly or indirectly, 50 percent or more” by the targeted persons are blocked and must be reported to OFAC. Additionally, U.S. persons are 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 OFAC license.

    The following day, OFAC issued several new Russia-related General Licenses (GLs). OFAC also published three frequently asked questions regarding “Russian Harmful Foreign Sanctions.”

    Financial Crimes Department of Treasury OFAC SDN List Department of State OFAC Designations OFAC Sanctions Russia Ukraine Ukraine Invasion

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  • Treasury clarifies impact of sanctions on agricultural commodities, agricultural equipment, or medicine relating to Russia

    Financial Crimes

    On July 14, the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) issued a Fact Sheet to clarify that the U.S. has not imposed sanctions on the production, manufacturing, sale, or transport of agricultural commodities, agricultural equipment, or medicine relating to Russia. Additionally, OFAC issued General License (GL) 6B to expand agricultural and medical authorizations to now cover transactions related to agricultural equipment that would normally be prohibited by the Russian Harmful Foreign Activities Sanctions Regulations. OFAC emphasized that U.S. sanctions on Russia issued in response to its war against Ukraine “do not stand in the way of agricultural and medical trade.” OFAC referred to guidance issued in April for more details on authorizations under U.S. sanctions related to agricultural and medical transactions, nongovernmental organization activities, and Covid-19 relief, among others, to support people impacted by Russia’s war (covered by InfoBytes here).

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

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  • OFAC sanctions Mexican cartel facilitator

    Financial Crimes

    On July 11, the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) announced sanctions pursuant to the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act against an individual engaged in the trafficking of high-caliber firearms from the U.S. to a Mexican drug organization. According to OFAC, the designated individual acted for or on behalf of a violent drug trafficking organization based in Mexico, which is responsible for a significant proportion of drugs trafficked into the U.S. OFAC further noted that the designation “is the result of ongoing efforts by U.S. agencies and the Government of Mexico to disrupt Mexican drug trafficking organizations’ procurement of weapons, including those sourced in the United States.” As a result of the sanctions, all property belonging to the sanctioned persons 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 of blocked or designated persons.

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

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  • OFAC sanctions Iranian petrochemical network

    Financial Crimes

    On July 6, the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) announced sanctions pursuant to Executive Order 13846 against an international network of individuals and entities for facilitating the delivery and sale of hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of Iranian petroleum and petrochemical products from Iranian companies to East Asia through a web of Gulf-based front companies. The designations follow OFAC sanctions announced June 16 against a network of Iranian petrochemical producers, as well as front companies in the People’s Republic of China and the United Arab Emirates, working to support Iranian petrochemical sales (covered by InfoBytes here). As a result, all property and interests in property of the sanctioned persons subject to U.S. jurisdiction are blocked and must be reported to OFAC, as well as any entities owned 50 percent or more by such persons. U.S. persons are also generally prohibited from entering into transactions with the sanctioned persons. Additionally, OFAC warned that “any foreign financial institution that knowingly facilitates a significant transaction for any of the individuals or entities designated today could be subject to U.S. sanctions.”

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

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  • OFAC amends Venezuela-related general license

    Financial Crimes

    On July 7, the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control issued Venezuela-related General License (GL) 40A, which authorizes certain transactions involving the exportation or reexportation of liquefied petroleum gas to Venezuela that would otherwise be prohibited by Executive Order (E.O.) 13884, as incorporated into the Venezuela Sanctions Regulations. (Covered by InfoBytes here.) Effective July 7, G.L. 40A replaces G.L. 40, which was issued in July 2021.

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

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  • OFAC issues Notification of Blocked Property to sanctioned Russian oligarch’s trust

    Financial Crimes

    On June 30, the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) issued a Notification of Blocked Property to a Delaware-based trust in which an OFAC-designated Russian oligarch holds a property interest. As previously covered by InfoBytes, in April 2018, OFAC sanctioned seven Russian oligarchs, including the Russian oligarch who holds a property interest, along with 12 companies they own or control, 17 senior Russian government officials, and a state-owned Russian weapons trading company and its Russian bank subsidiary pursuant to the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act of 2017 (CAATSA) and Executive Orders 1366113662, and 13582. According to OFAC, the trust holds assets valued at over $1 billion; therefore, this enforcement action ensures that those assets continue to be blocked and inaccessible to the OFAC-designated Russian oligarch. As a result of the Notification of Blocked Property, the trust is subject to the same prohibitions applicable to the OFAC-designated Russian oligarch. All transactions by U.S. persons or within (or transiting) the U.S. involving any property or interests in property of designated or otherwise blocked persons are prohibited, unless exempt or authorized by a general or specific license issued by OFAC. These prohibitions include the making of any contribution or provision of funds, goods, or services by, to, or for the benefit of any blocked person and the receipt of any contribution or provision of funds, goods, or services from any such person.

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

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  • OFAC amends Global Terrorism Sanctions Regulations

    Financial Crimes

    On June 30, the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) announced a final rule amending the Global Terrorism Sanctions Regulations. Specifically, the final rule “authorizes the Secretary of the Treasury to prohibit the opening, and prohibit or impose strict conditions on the maintaining, in the United States, of a correspondent account or payable-through account of any foreign financial institution that the Secretary of the Treasury, in consultation with the Secretary of State, has determined, on or after September 24, 2001 (the effective date of amended E.O. 13224), has knowingly conducted or facilitated any significant transaction on behalf of any person whose property and interests in property are blocked pursuant to amended E.O. 13224.” The final rule is effective July 1.

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

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  • OFAC sanctions nearly 100 Russian targets; prohibits Russian gold imports

    Financial Crimes

    On June 28, the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) announced sanctions pursuant to Executive Orders (E.O.) 14024 and 14065 against 70 entities—many of which, according to OFAC, “are critical to the Russian Federation’s defense industrial base, including State Corporation Rostec, the cornerstone of Russia’s defense, industrial, technology, and manufacturing sector.” Twenty-nine Russian individuals were also designated. “We once again reaffirm our commitment to working alongside our partners and allies to impose additional severe sanctions in response to Russia’s war against Ukraine,” Treasury Secretary Janet L. Yellen said. OFAC’s designations occurred in tandem with actions taken by the U.S. State Department, which include sanctions against an additional 45 entities and 29 individuals as well as visa restrictions against “officials believed to have threatened or violated Ukraine’s sovereignty, territorial integrity, or political independence.” Additionally, OFAC immediately prohibited the importation of Russian gold into the U.S. (unless licensed or otherwise authorized by OFAC). As a result of the sanctions, all property and interests in property belonging to the designated persons in the U.S. 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 the sanctioned persons unless authorized by a general or specific license.

    A joint alert issued by FinCEN and the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security also urged financial institutions to remain vigilant against Russian and Belarusian export control evasion and to take a “risk-based approach” for identifying potentially suspicious activity, such as end-use certificates, export documents, or letters of credit-based trade financing. “Financial institutions and the private sector continue to play a key role in disrupting Russia’s efforts to acquire critical goods and technology to support its war-making efforts,” OFAC stated in its announcement.

    On the same day, OFAC issued several new Russia-related general licenses (GL): (i) GL 39 authorizes the wind down of transactions ordinarily incident and necessary involving State Corporation Rostec that are normally prohibited by E.O. 14024; (ii) GL 40 authorizes “all transactions ordinarily incident and necessary to the provision, exportation, or reexportation of goods, technology, or services to ensure the safety of civil aviation involving one or more of” certain blocked entities; (iii) GL 41 authorizes certain transactions related to agricultural equipment that are normally prohibited by the Russian Harmful Foreign Activities Sanctions Regulations; (iv) GL 42 authorizes certain transactions with the Federal Security Services; and (v) GL 43 authorizes the divestment or transfer of debt or equity of, and wind down of derivative contracts involving the Public Joint Stock Company Severstal or Nord Gold PLC.

    OFAC also published a Determination Pursuant to Section 1(a)(i) of Executive Order 14068 concerning prohibitions related to the importation of Russian gold and issued one new and one amended frequently asked question.

    The Russian Elites, Proxies, and Oligarchs (REPO) Task Force also issued a joint statement summarizing actions taken by REPO members against sanctioned Russians. The efforts have led to more than $30 billion worth of sanctioned Russians’ assets being blocked or frozen and has heavily restricted sanctioned Russians’ access to the international financial system.

    Financial Crimes Of Interest to Non-US Persons Department of Treasury OFAC OFAC Designations OFAC Sanctions Russia Ukraine Ukraine Invasion Department of State FinCEN Department of Commerce

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