Skip to main content
Menu Icon Menu Icon
Close

InfoBytes Blog

Financial Services Law Insights and Observations

Filter

Subscribe to our InfoBytes Blog weekly newsletter and other publications for news affecting the financial services industry.

  • Treasury says foreign financial institutions risk sanctions if they provide material support to Russia

    Financial Crimes

    On May 13, Deputy Secretary of the Treasury Wally Adeyemo warned representatives from several foreign financial institutions about the risks of aiding Russia in evading sanctions imposed by the U.S. and its allies following the country’s invasion of Ukraine. Adeyemo emphasized that institutions may face “sanctions exposure for providing material support to a sanctioned entity,” and stressed that the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control “expects all financial institutions to do their own due diligence to ensure they are not transacting with a sanctioned person.”

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

    Share page with AddThis
  • DOJ seizes $300 million yacht as part of Task Force KleptoCapture; OFAC issues Russia-related general licenses and updated FAQs

    Financial Crimes

    On May 5, the DOJ executed a seizure warrant freezing a $300 million yacht owned by a sanctioned Russian oligarch, following a determination that the yacht is subject to forfeiture based on probable cause of violations of U.S. law, including the International Emergency Economic Powers Act, money laundering and conspiracy. The Russian oligarch was designated in 2018 by the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control pursuant to the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act and Executive Order (E.O.) 13582 (covered by InfoBytes here). According to the DOJ’s announcement, the sanctioned oligarch owned the yacht after his designation and “caused U.S. dollar transactions to be routed through U.S. financial institutions for the support and maintenance of the [yacht].” The seizure was coordinated through the DOJ’s Task Force KleptoCapture, which is “an interagency law enforcement task force dedicated to enforcing the sweeping sanctions, export controls, and economic countermeasures that the United States, along with its foreign allies and partners, have imposed in response to Russia’s unprovoked military invasion of Ukraine” (covered by InfoBytes here.)

    The same day OFAC also issued several Russia-related general licenses (GL), including GL 7A, which authorizes “transactions ordinarily incident and necessary to the receipt of, and payment of charges for, services rendered in connection with overflights of the Russian Federation or emergency landings in the Russian Federation by aircraft registered in the United States or owned or controlled by, or chartered to, U.S. persons that are prohibited by the Russian Harmful Foreign Activities Sanctions Regulations”; GL 26A, which authorizes all transactions ordinarily incident and necessary to the wind down of transactions involving Joint Stock Company SB Sberbank Kazakhstan or Sberbank Europe AG, or any entity that Sberbank subsidiaries owns, through July 12, provided certain criteria are met; GL 31, which authorizes certain transactions related to patents, trademarks, copyrights, or other forms of intellectual property protections in the U.S. or Russia that would otherwise be prohibited; and GL 32, which authorizes the wind down of transactions involving Amsterdam Trade Bank NV that would ordinarily be prohibited by E.O. 14024 through July 12. Additionally, OFAC issued one new and one amended Russia-related frequently asked questions.

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

    Share page with AddThis
  • OFAC issues Russian sanctions, general licenses, and expanded E.O.s

    Financial Crimes

    On May 8, the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) announced “sweeping” sanctions, which include the designations of board members from two of Russia’s most important banks, a Russian state-owned bank and 10 of its subsidiaries, a state-supported weapons manufacturer, and three of Russia’s state-controlled television stations that generate revenue for the state. OFAC also published a Determination Pursuant to Section 1(a)(i) of Executive Order (E.O.) 14024 and a Determination Pursuant To Section 1(a)(ii) Of E.O. 14071. According to OFAC's press release, the sanctions, issued pursuant to E.O. 14071, “cut off access to services that are used by the Russian Federation and Russian elites to evade sanctions.” OFAC identified accounting, trust and corporate formation, and management consulting as categories of services that are subject to a prohibition on the export, reexport, sale, or supply, directly or indirectly, from the U.S., or by a U.S. person, wherever located, to any person located in the Russian Federation. Additionally, OFAC determined that these same services sectors of the Russian Federation economy are subject to sanctions pursuant to E.O. 14024. OFAC also issued four Russia-related general licenses (GLs): (i) GL 25A authorizes transactions related to telecommunications and certain internet-based communications; GL 33 authorizes the wind down of operations or existing contracts involving certain blocked entities; GL 34 authorizes the wind down of accounting, trust and corporate formation, and management consulting services; and GL 35 authorizes transactions involving credit rating and auditing services. OFAC also issued a new frequently asked question clarifying transactions related to telecommunications and certain internet-based communications that involve Joint Stock Company Channel One Russia, Television Station Russia-1, or Joint Stock Company NTV Broadcasting Company authorized by Russia-related GL 25A.

    OFAC also recently published amended Russia-related frequently asked questions 1034, 1035, and 1038 clarifying, among other things, (i) terms related to Executive Order (E.O.) 14071’s prohibition on certain accounting, trust and corporate formation, and management consulting services; (ii) what “credit rating services” and “auditing services” mean under General License 35; and (iii) certain activities related to products and services in or involving the Russian Federation in relation to E.O. 14024.

    Find continuing InfoBytes coverage on the U.S. sanctions response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine here.

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

    Share page with AddThis
  • SEC advises companies on Ukraine-related disclosure obligations

    Securities

    On May 3, the SEC Division of Corporation Finance released a sample letter advising companies that they should provide “detailed disclosure[s]” if they have direct or indirect operations in Russia, Belarus or Ukraine or if they trade securities in Russia or are affected by financial sanctions imposed on Russia. Companies should also report any other related uncertainties caused by the conflict in Ukraine, and disclose supply chain disruptions, cybersecurity risks, and volatility related to commodity trading prices. Additionally, companies should report whether they rely on goods or services sourced in Russia or Ukraine (or in certain cases, countries supporting Russia) as well as any business relationships or assets based in Russia, Belarus, or Ukraine. “The sample comments do not constitute an exhaustive list of the issues that companies should consider,” the Division said. “As always, companies should evaluate whether they have experienced or been impacted by matters characterized as potential risks and, if so, update disclosures accordingly.”

    Securities Financial Crimes Privacy/Cyber Risk & Data Security Ukraine Ukraine Invasion Russia Of Interest to Non-US Persons

    Share page with AddThis
  • DOJ to strengthen kleptocracy asset recovery

    Financial Crimes

    On April 28, the DOJ issued a fact sheet outlining legislative proposals to strengthen kleptocracy asset recovery as part of the Biden administration’s efforts “to isolate and target the crimes of Russian officials, government-aligned elites, and those who aid or conceal their unlawful conduct.” The proposed measures would “streamline asset forfeiture proceedings in certain circumstances” and also:

    • Enable the DOJ and Treasury and State Departments to work together to return forfeited kleptocrat funds to remediate harms caused to Ukraine;
    • Expand forfeiture authorities under the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA) to include property used to facilitate the violations of sanctions and “amend IEEPA’s penalty provision to extend the existing forfeiture authorities to facilitating property, not just to proceeds of the offenses”;
    • Expand the definition of “racketeering activity” in the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act to include criminal violations of IEEP and the Export Control Reform Act to improve the U.S.’s ability to investigate and prosecute sanctions evasion and export control violations;
    • Extend the statute of limitations for prosecuting sanctions violations and the statute of limitations for seeking forfeitures based on foreign offenses from five years to 10 years; and
    • Improve the U.S.’s ability to work with international partners to facilitate enforcement of foreign restraint and forfeiture orders for criminal property and improve the ability to take these actions in the U.S.

    As previously covered by InfoBytes, the DOJ launched “Task Force KleptoCapture,” an “interagency law enforcement task force dedicated to enforcing the sweeping sanctions, export restrictions, and economic countermeasures that the United States has imposed, along with allies and partners,” in order to “isolate Russia from global markets” in March. The task force has since engaged in numerous transatlantic efforts to sanction numerous Russian elites, Russia’s largest privately-owned aircraft, and one of the world’s largest superyachts (covered by InfoBytes here), and has “seized approximately $625,000 associated with sanctioned parties held at nine U.S. financial institutions.”

    Find continuing InfoBytes coverage on the U.S. sanctions response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine here.

    Financial Crimes DOJ Digital Assets Russia Ukraine Ukraine Invasion Of Interest to Non-US Persons Biden RICO OFAC Sanctions Department of Treasury Department of State

    Share page with AddThis
  • OFAC amends and reissues the Ukraine-Related Sanctions Regulations

    Financial Crimes

    On April 29, the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) announced that it amended and reissued the Ukraine-Related Sanctions Regulations, renaming them the Ukraine-/Russia-Related Sanctions Regulations. According to OFAC, this action replaces the regulations that were published in abbreviated form on May 8, 2014 with a more comprehensive set of regulations, including additional interpretive and definitional guidance, general licenses, and other regulatory provisions. OFAC also announced that it is revising several FAQs for the Ukraine-/Russia-Related Sanctions Regulations. OFAC also noted that “[t[he publication of this final rule has triggered an automatic administrative update to a number of sanctions entries. The unique identifier numbers (UIDs) for the affected entries are listed . . . as part of this administrative update.” The Ukraine-/Russia-Related Sanctions Regulations take effect May 2.

    The same week, OFAC published Russia-related General License 30, “Authorizing Transactions Involving Gazprom Germania GmbH Prohibited by Directive 3 under Executive Order 14024,” which authorizes all transactions involving Gazprom Germania GmbH, or any entity in which Gazprom Germania GmbH owns, under certain criteria.

    Find continuing InfoBytes coverage on the U.S. sanctions response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine here.

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

    Share page with AddThis
  • OFAC sanctions facilitators of Russian sanctions evasion

    Financial Crimes

    On April 20, the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) announced sanctions pursuant to Executive Order 14024 against several entities and numerous individuals for attempting to evade sanctions imposed by the U.S. and its international partners on Russia. Included in the designations are a Russian commercial bank, a global network comprised of more than 40 individuals and entities led by a previously designated Russian oligarch (“including organizations whose primary mission is to facilitate sanctions evasion for Russian entities”), and several companies operating in Russia’s virtual currency mining industry. According to OFAC, this is the first time a virtual currency mining company has been sanctioned. In coordination with OFAC’s sanctions, the Department of State took further action by imposing visa restrictions on 635 Russian nationals and three Russian Federation officials for their involvement in human rights abuses, as well as 17 individuals responsible for undermining democracy in Belarus.

    As a result of the sanctions, all property and interests in property belonging to the sanctioned entities 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.

    On the same day, OFAC issued new frequently asked question guidance clarifying obligations for credit card operators with regard to payment cards issued by sanctioned Russian financial institutions. OFAC also published two Russia-related general licenses: (i) General License 28 authorizes certain transactions involving a public joint stock company that are “ultimately destined for or originating from Afghanistan”; and (ii) General License 29 authorizes the wind down of transactions involving the same public joint stock company.

    Find continuing InfoBytes coverage on the U.S. sanctions response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine here.

     

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

    Share page with AddThis
  • Treasury releases fact sheet on providing food and humanitarian support to persons impacted by Russian invasion of Ukraine

    Financial Crimes

    On April 19, the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) issued a Fact Sheet ​for “Preserving Agricultural Trade, Access to Communication, and Other Support to Those Impacted by Russia’s War Against Ukraine” following an event on the topic held by OFAC. The Fact Sheet, among other things, highlights Treasury’s humanitarian-related or other general licenses (GL) issued to support of the people impacted by Russia’s war related to: (i) telecommunications and internet-based communications; (ii) Covid-19 and clinical trials; (iii) NGO activities; (iv) personal remittances; (v) personal maintenance of U.S. individuals; (vi) emergency medical services; (vii) government and international organization official business; (viii) overflight payments, emergency landings, and air ambulance services; (ix) civil maritime services in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions; and (x) journalistic activities.

    The same day, OFAC issued a new Russia-related GL 27, “Certain Transactions in Support of Nongovernmental Organizations’ Activities,” to authorize transactions related to certain activities of NGOs in Russia and Ukraine.

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

    Share page with AddThis
  • OFAC issues Russian general license

    Financial Crimes

    On April 12, the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) issued Russia-related General License (GL) 26, “Authorizing the Wind Down of Transactions Involving Joint Stock Company SB Sberbank Kazakhstan or Sberbank Europe AG,” which authorizes all transactions ordinarily incident and necessary to the wind down of transactions involving Joint Stock Company SB Sberbank Kazakhstan or Sberbank Europe AG, or any entity that Sberbank subsidiaries owns, through July 12, provided certain criteria are met. The GL was issued in the wake of Russia’s Sberbank being placed on the SDN list, which prohibits all transactions with Sberbank by U.S. persons, on April 6.

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

    Share page with AddThis
  • OFAC sanctions Russian diamond mining and shipbuilding companies, and issues general licenses

    Financial Crimes

    On April 7, the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) announced sanctions, pursuant to Executive Order 14024, against a Russian state-owned enterprise (SOE) and the world’s largest diamond mining company, which is also responsible for 90 percent of Russia’s diamond mining capacity. Additionally, the Department of State redesignated a Russian SOE open joint stock company, as well as its subsidiaries and board members. According to OFAC, the company develops and constructs most of the Russian military’s warships, likely including those used in Ukraine. OFAC further noted that it is “cutting off additional sources of support and revenue for the Government of the Russian Federation (GoR) to wage its unprovoked war against Ukraine.” As a result of the sanctions, all property and interests in property belonging to the sanctioned entities 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, 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 the same day, OFAC issued several Russia-related general licenses: (i) General License 9C authorizes “transactions related to dealings in certain debt or equity”; (ii) General License 10C authorizes “certain transactions related to derivative contracts”; (iii) General License 21A authorizes “the wind down of Sberbank CIB USA, Inc. and Alrosa USA, Inc.”; (vi) General License 24 authorizes “the wind down of transactions involving public joint stock company Alrosa”; and (v) General License 25 authorizes “transactions related to telecommunications and certain internet-based communications.”

    Find continuing InfoBytes coverage on the U.S. sanctions response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine here.
     

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

    Share page with AddThis

Pages