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  • White House orders DOJ and CFPB to better protect citizens’ sensitive personal data

    Privacy, Cyber Risk & Data Security

    On March 1, the White House released Executive Order 14117 (E.O.) titled “Preventing Access to Americans’ Bulk Sensitive Personal Data and United States Government-Related Data by Countries of Concern” to issue safeguards against Americans’ private information. The E.O. was preceded by the White House’s Fact Sheet which included provisions to protect Americans’ data on their genomic and biometric information, personal health, geolocation, finances, among others. The E.O. shared how this data can be used by nefarious actors such as foreign intelligence services or companies and could enable privacy violations. Under the E.O., President Biden ordered several agencies to act but primarily called on the DOJ. The president directed the DOJ to issue regulations on protecting Americans’ data from being exploited by certain countries. The White House also directed the DOJ to issue regulations to protect government-related data, specifically citing protections for geolocation information and information about military members. Lastly, the DOJ was directed to work with DHS to prevent certain countries’ access to citizens’ data through commercial means and the CFPB was encouraged to “[take] steps, consistent with CFPB’s existing legal authorities, to protect Americans from data brokers that are illegally assembling and selling extremely sensitive data, including that of U.S. military personnel.”

    A few days before, the DOJ released its fact sheet detailing its proposals to implement the White House’s E.O., focusing on national security risks and data security. The fact sheet highlighted that our current laws leave open lawful access to vast amounts of Americans’ sensitive personal data that may be purchased and accessed through commercial relationships. In response to the E.O., the DOJ plans to release future regulations “addressing transactions that involve [Americans’] bulk sensitive data” that pose a risk of access by countries of concern. The countries of concern include China (including Hong Kong and Macau), Russia, Iran, North Korea, Cuba, and Venezuela. The DOJ will also release its Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM) to provide details of the proposal(s) and to solicit comments.

    Privacy, Cyber Risk & Data Security Federal Issues Department of Justice CFPB Executive Order Department of Homeland Security White House Big Data China Russia Iran North Korea Cuba Venezuela

  • OFAC clarifies impact of sanctions on humanitarian assistance and trade

    Financial Crimes

    On June 14, the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) issued a Fact Sheet for “Provision of Humanitarian Assistance and Trade to Combat COVID-19.” The Fact Sheet, among other things, highlights Treasury’s humanitarian-related or other general licenses (GL) issued to support people impacted by Covid-19 across Iran, Venezuela, North Korea, Syria, Cuba, and Russia. Relatedly, OFAC issued Iran-related GL N-2, Venezuela-related GL 39B, and Syria-related GL 21B to authorize transactions and activities related to the prevention, diagnosis, or treatment of Covid-19, as well as several amended FAQs.

    Financial Crimes Of Interest to Non-US Persons Department of Treasury OFAC OFAC Designations OFAC Sanctions Iran Syria North Korea Cuba Russia Venezuela Covid-19

  • OFAC issues new general licenses related to Russia and Venezuela sanctions

    Financial Crimes

    The U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) recently released two general licenses relating to Russia and Venezuela. Newly issued Russia-related General License (GL) 69 authorizes certain debt securities servicing transactions issued by an identified bank that would otherwise be prohibited by Executive Order (E.O.) 14024. Interest or principal payments on the authorized transactions cannot be made to persons located in the Russian Federation, and any payments made to a blocked person must be done in accordance with the Russian Harmful Foreign Activities Sanctions Regulations regardless of where the person is located.

    Additionally, OFAC also issued GL 8L, which authorizes transactions involving Petróleos de Venezuela, S.A. (PdVSA) that are deemed necessary for the wind down of operations in Venezuela for certain entities. While authorizing some transactions, GL 8L also includes a comprehensive list of transactions that are not authorized, including “[a]ny loans to, accrual of additional debt by, or subsidization of PdVSA, or any entity in which PdVSA owns, directly or indirectly, a 50 percent or greater interest, including in kind, prohibited by E.O. 13808 of August 24, 2017, as amended by E.O. 13857, and incorporated into the [Venezuela Sanctions Regulations].”

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

  • OFAC issues new general licenses related to Russia and Venezuela sanctions

    Financial Crimes

    The U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) recently released two general licenses relating to Russia and Venezuela. Newly issued Russia-related General License (GL) 69 authorizes certain debt securities servicing transactions issued by an identified bank that would otherwise be prohibited by Executive Order (E.O.) 14024. Interest or principal payments on the authorized transactions cannot be made to persons located in the Russian Federation, and any payments made to a blocked person must be done in accordance with the Russian Harmful Foreign Activities Sanctions Regulations regardless of where the person is located.

    Additionally, OFAC also issued GL 8L, which authorizes transactions involving Petróleos de Venezuela, S.A. (PdVSA) that are deemed necessary for the wind down of operations in Venezuela for certain entities. While authorizing some transactions, GL 8L also includes a comprehensive list of transactions that are not authorized, including “[a]ny loans to, accrual of additional debt by, or subsidization of PdVSA, or any entity in which PdVSA owns, directly or indirectly, a 50 percent or greater interest, including in kind, prohibited by E.O. 13808 of August 24, 2017, as amended by E.O. 13857, and incorporated into the [Venezuela Sanctions Regulations].”

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

  • OFAC announces new Sudan E.O., issues and amends several sanctions general licenses and FAQs

    Financial Crimes

    The U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) recently announced several sanctions-related actions, including President Biden’s new Executive Order (E.O.) Imposing Sanctions on Certain Persons Destabilizing Sudan and Undermining the Goal of a Democratic Transition. The E.O. expands the scope of a 2006 Executive Order following the determination that recent events in Sudan “constitute[] an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States.” The E.O. outlines specific prohibitions and provides that all property and interests in property that are in the U.S. or that later come in the U.S., or that are in the possession or control of any of the identified U.S. persons must be blocked and may not be transferred, paid, exported, withdrawn, or otherwise dealt in. Concurrently, OFAC issued a new FAQ clarifying which sanctions authorities are applicable to Sudan and the Sudanese government.

    OFAC also issued Venezuela-related General License (GL) 42, which authorizes certain transactions related to the negotiation of settlement agreements with the IV Venezuelan National Assembly and certain other entities. The authorized transactions must relate to debt owed by the Venezuelan government, Petróleos de Venezuela, S.A., or any entity owned, directly or indirectly, 50 percent or more. GL 42 does not authorizes transactions involving the Venezuelan National Constituent Assembly convened by Nicolas Maduro or the National Assembly seated on January 5, 2021. OFAC also released three new related FAQs and one amended FAQ.

    Additionally, OFAC released cyber-related GL 1C, which authorizes certain transactions with Russia’s Federal Security Service that would normally be prohibited by the Weapons of Mass Destruction Proliferators Sanctions Regulations, and issued three amended cyber-related FAQs. A few days later, OFAC issued Russia-related GL 8G, which authorizes certain transactions related to energy that would otherwise be prohibited by E.O. 14024, involving certain entities, including Russia’s central bank. OFAC clarified that GL 8G does not authorize prohibited transactions related to (i) certain sovereign debt of the Russian Federation; (ii) the “opening or maintaining of a correspondent account or payable-through account for or on behalf of any entity subject to Directive 2 under E.O. 14024, Prohibitions Related to Correspondent or Payable-Through Accounts and Processing of Transactions Involving Certain Foreign Financial Institutions”; and (iii) or “[a]ny debit to an account on the books of a U.S. financial institution of the Central Bank of the Russian Federation,” among others.

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

  • OFAC settles with digital platform on sanctioned transactions

    Financial Crimes

    On March 31, the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) announced a $72,230 settlement with a global digital trading platform to resolve allegations that it processed transactions for customers who self-identified as being located in Iran or Cuba, or were employees of the Government of Venezuela (GoV). OFAC’s web notice stated that between March 2017 and May 2022, the company, or certain of its non-U.S. affiliates, allegedly maintained accounts for customers who submitted information showing their locations were in a sanctioned jurisdiction. OFAC further maintained that the company violated the Venezuela Sanctions Regulations by processing transactions on behalf of two customers who self-identified as employees of the GoV. OFAC claimed, among other things, that the company implemented inadequate compliance processes to identify, analyze, and address risks.

    In its web notice, OFAC stated that it determined that “the violations were voluntarily self-disclosed and were non-egregious.” OFAC also considered various mitigating factors, including that the company has not received a penalty notice from OFAC in the preceding five years. Additionally, the company undertook numerous remedial measures upon learning of the alleged violations, cooperated with OFAC throughout the investigation, and agreed to toll the statute of limitations, the notice said.

    The company issued the following response: “We appreciate that OFAC recognized our full cooperation and remediation of the issues involved in this matter. These were self-identified and self-reported matters that reflect the rigor of our compliance review processes.”

    Orrick represented the company in this matter.

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

  • OFAC issues amended Venezuela-related GL and FAQ

    Financial Crimes

    On January 17, the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control issued Venezuela-related General License (GL) 5J, which supersedes GL 5I and authorizes certain transactions otherwise prohibited under Executive Orders 13835 and 13857 related to, or that provide financing for, dealings in the Petróleos de Venezuela, S.A. 2020 8.5 Percent Bond on or after April 20, 2023. GL 5J does not authorize any transactions or activities otherwise prohibited by the Venezuela Sanctions Regulations. Concurrently, OFAC updated Venezuela-related FAQ 595 to provide clarification on authorized transactions as well as licensing requirements.

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

  • OFAC issues Venezuela-related general license for some transactions

    Financial Crimes

    On January 9, the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control issued Venezuela-related General License (GL) 31B, “Certain Transactions Involving the IV Venezuelan National Assembly and Certain Other Persons.” GL 31B authorizes certain transactions ordinarily prohibited by Executive Order (E.O.) 13884, as incorporated into the Venezuela Sanctions Regulations (VSR), involving the IV Venezuelan National Assembly, its Delegated Commission, any entity established by, or under the direction of, the IV National Assembly to exercise its mandate, or any person appointed or designated by, or whose appointment or designation is retained by, the IV National Assembly, its Delegated Commission, or a IV National Assembly Entity, including their respective members and staff. GL 31B also authorizes U.S. persons to engage in all transactions prohibited by E.O. 13850, as amended by E.O. 13857 (and incorporated into the VSR), involving “any person appointed or designated by, or whose appointment or designation is retained by, the IV National Assembly, its Delegated Commission, or a IV National Assembly Entity to the board of directors (including any ad hoc board of directors) or as an executive officer of a Government of Venezuela entity (including entities owned or controlled, directly or indirectly, by the Government of Venezuela).” OFAC noted that GL 31B does not authorize transactions involving the Venezuelan National Constituent Assembly convened by Nicolas Maduro or the National Assembly seated on January 5, 2021 (including their respective members and staff), or any transactions otherwise prohibited by the Venezuela Sanctions Regulations, including those involving blocked persons unless allowed by GL 31B or separately authorized. In conjunction with GL 31B, OFAC amended related FAQs 522, 547, 660, 679, and 680.

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

  • OFAC issues Venezuela-related general licenses

    Financial Crimes

    On November 26, the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) issued Venezuela-related General License (GL) 41 following the resumption of talks in Mexico City to alleviate the suffering of Venezuelan people and restore democracy. GL 41 authorizes certain transactions related to the identified corporation and its subsidiaries’ joint ventures in Venezuela involving Petróleos de Venezuela, S.A (PdVSA) or any entity owned directly or indirectly, 50 percent or more, that would otherwise be prohibited by Executive Order (E.O.) 13850, as amended by E.O.s 13857 or 13884. OFAC noted that GL 41 prevents PdVSA from receiving profits from the oil sales by the identified corporation, and only authorizes certain specific activities. Other Venezuela-related sanctions and restrictions imposed by the U.S. remain in place. Concurrent with the issuance of GL 41, OFAC issued GL 8K, “Authorizing Transactions Involving Petróleos de Venezuela, S.A. (PdVSA) Necessary for the Limited Maintenance of Essential Operations in Venezuela or the Wind Down of Operations in Venezuela for Certain Entities,” as well as two new related FAQs. According to the announcement, “U.S. persons are authorized to provide goods and services for certain activities as specified in GL 41,” and “non-U.S. persons generally do not risk U.S. sanctions exposure for facilitating transactions that are authorized by GL 41.”

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

  • OFAC issues finding of violation to entity for sanctions violations

    Financial Crimes

    On October 14, the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) announced the issuance of a Finding of Violation to an international financial entity in Puerto Rico, for violations of the Venezuelan Sanctions Regulations (VSR), and the Reporting, Penalties and Procedures Regulations (RPPR). According to the web notice, OFAC claimed that the entity engaged in three transactions totaling approximately $50,000 in violation of VSR, failed to maintain full and accurate records related to the handling of the blocked accounts in violation of RPPR, and failed to report the blocked accounts accurately. In determining the Finding of Violation, OFAC considered aggravating factors, including that the entity failed to exercise a minimal degree of caution or care when it (i) engaged in transactions involving blocked property without obtaining an OFAC license, even though senior managers at the bank were aware an OFAC license was needed; and (ii) failed to maintain relevant records associated with the bank’s handling of the blocked property, which may have impaired its ability to provide full and accurate information to OFAC. OFAC also considered various mitigating factors, including that the entity has not received a penalty notice from OFAC in the preceding five years, it voluntarily self-disclosed the alleged violations, and it has taken numerous remedial measures.

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

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