On November 28, 2022, the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) announced a $362,158.70 settlement agreement with Payward, Inc. (Kraken), an online virtual currency exchange, in connection with 826 apparent violations of the Iranian Transactions and Sanctions Regulations. This enforcement action highlights the OFAC compliance risks for virtual currency platforms and comes on the heels of the Bittrex settlement which we discussed here. Again, it is critical to assess your risks and take steps to make sure you’re addressing them with smart compliance and screening measures.

Continue Reading OFAC Continues Focus on Virtual Currency Industry with Announced Settlement with Payward, Inc.

On November 15, 2022, the United States Trade Representative (USTR) opened its docket (USTR-2022-0014) seeking public comments in its review of the Trump-era tariffs on Chinese imports. The tariffs were issued by then-President Donald J. Trump under Section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974.

Continue Reading China Tariffs: Opportunity to Request Modifications

On Monday, October 24, 2022, the Department of Justice (DOJ) announced charges against two alleged Chinese intelligence officers for bribing and stealing documents to obstruct the criminal investigation of, reportedly, Huawei (while the complaint does not name Huawei, it is the company according to multiple reports).

Continue Reading Bribes, Bitcoin and Obstruction: DOJ Announces Charges Against Chinese Agents for Trying to Impede Investigation of Huawei

Today, the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) officially moved Myanmar onto the agency’s blacklist, where it joins Iran and North Korea, the only other two listed countries. It is likely that the United States and other countries will take the FATF designation as grounds to impose financial sanctions on the country, likely focusing on its central bank and financial institutions.

Continue Reading Myanmar Sanctions – A Last Resort Against a Non-Cooperating Country

The United States Trade Representative (USTR) has announced the next steps in its review of the Trump-era tariffs on Chinese imports. Today, on October 17, 2022, USTR published the official request for comments in the Federal Register. The tariffs were issued by then-President Donald J. Trump under Section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974.

Continue Reading China Tariffs: USTR Requests Comments for Review of Section 301 Tariffs

Settlement Agreement with Bittrex, Inc.

Today, on October 11, 2022, the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) announced a $24,280,829.20 settlement agreement with Bittrex, Inc., an online virtual currency exchange and hosted wallet service provider, in connection with 116,421 apparent violations of multiple sanctions programs. This enforcement action highlights the OFAC compliance risks for virtual currency platforms. So, assess your risks and take steps to make sure you’re addressing them with smart compliance and screening measures.

Continue Reading OFAC Announces Hefty Settlement with Virtual Currency Exchange / Hosted Wallet Services Provider

On September 30, 2022, the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) published compliance guidance for instant payment systems. The guide highlights the need for emerging payment technology companies to assess their sanctions risks and implement compliance programs that mitigate those risks. Specifically, the guidance: (i) reaffirms that financial institutions should take a risk-based approach to managing sanctions risks; (ii) highlights key factors that may be relevant in determining that risk-based approach; (iii) encourages the development and deployment of innovative sanctions compliance approaches and technologies to address identified risks; and (iv) encourages developers of instant payment systems to incorporate sanctions compliance considerations as they develop new payment technologies.

Continue Reading OFAC Issues Sanctions Compliance Guidance for Instant Payment Systems

The Announcement

On Friday, October 7, 2022, the U.S. Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) released for public inspection (available here) one hundred forty pages of regulations (which we’ll call “the Regulation” here). Nearly all of the changes in the Regulation restrict the export of semiconductors, as well as related technology, manufacturing equipment, software, and even U.S.-person support, to China.

Continue Reading China Semiconductor Export Regulations, Episode I – Counting Your Chips Carefully

** Update: Announcement has been moved to Friday October 7, 2022 at 9:30 AM Eastern Daylight Time **

On Thursday, the Biden administration will announce new restrictions preventing China from accessing advanced U.S. semiconductor technology.

Continue Reading Further Export Controls on Semiconductor Technology for China coming this Week

After Mahsa Amini was killed in the custody of “Gasht-e-Ershad” or Iran’s Guidance Patrol, commonly referred to as Iran’s morality police, following an arrest for placement of her hijab, protests have erupted throughout Iran over women’s rights and Iran’s authoritarian regime more generally. Iran’s police and other security forces are retaliating severely against protestors. In response to these human rights abuses, on September 22, the U.S. Department of Treasury, Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) sanctioned Iran’s morality police and senior leaders of Iran’s security organizations for the violence against protesters.

Continue Reading Technology to Iran: OFAC Lifts Certain Iran Sanctions In Response to Protests in Iran