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.

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

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

On July 7, 2022, the Treasury Department laid out how it would work with its overseas counterparts and in international forums as the U.S. studies cryptocurrencies to set up a possible regulatory regime. This framework is the first executive agency response as mandated President Biden’s March executive order on crypto that we wrote about here.

Continue Reading Treasury Department Seeks to Coordinate Globally on Crypto Regulation

On April 29, 2022, the UK introduced new measures to prevent the provision of internet services to or for the benefit of designated persons.[1] These measures apply to the whole territory of the UK and to conduct by UK persons where that conduct is wholly or partly outside the UK. The designated entities or individuals (“Designated Persons”) can be found on the regularly updated UK Sanctions List with the tag “Internet Sanctions List”. To date, only V-Novosti and Rossiya Segodnya are designated under those authorities.

Continue Reading Introduction of internet-related Russia trade sanctions in the UK

On May 6, the US Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) designated a cryptocurrency mixer, Blender.io, as a Specially Designated National (SDN). That sanction follows a series of enforcements and sanctions which we have previously discussed here and here.

Continue Reading The Crypto Enthusiast and The Regulator: What OFAC is, Could Be, and Should Be Doing to Regulate CryptoCurrencies

Updated as of April 12, 2022

It has now been more than 40 days since the start of Putin’s brutal invasion of Ukraine. Today, following the recent revelations of the atrocities committed in Bucha, Ukraine by Russian armed forces, the United States – in coordination with the G7 and the EU – imposed new sanctions on Russia (see here). The sweeping new sanctions seek to further restrict Russia’s access to dollars and put economic pressure on Putin to end the war. The sanctions include a ban on all new investment in Russia as well as designations of Russia’s largest financial institutions (i.e., Sberbank and Alfa Bank), critical state-owned enterprises, and Russian government officials and their family members, including Putin’s children.

Continue Reading U.S. and Allies Impose Additional Severe Costs on Russia for Atrocities in Ukraine

The recent comprehensive economic sanctions by the U.S. and other nations against Russia has propelled the crypto community onto the geo-political stage in a major way. As with other forms of payment and methods of money transmission, cryptocurrency and cryptocurrency exchanges are at risk for exploitation by criminal actors, including those attempting to evade economic sanctions. Several attributes of cryptocurrencies that are usually touted in favor of the technology—pseudonymity, decentralization, digitalization—are now giving government officials, regulators, and lawmakers cause for concern in the sanctions climate. In response, leaders in the crypto community are voicing support of sanctions compliance, and citing aspects of the technology—traceability, immutability, visibility—in reassurance of it. As discussed below, there are several steps that crypto platforms can take to further efforts in blocking and detecting sanctions evasion activity on their platforms.

Continue Reading Crypto and Russia Sanctions: A Primer and Survival Guide For Crypto Companies

Updated as of March 9, 2022

Key Takeaways of OFAC (Treasury), BIS (Commerce), and State Actions

  • Major Russian Banks Blocked from the U.S. Financial System


Continue Reading Russian Risk: Transactions with Russian Banks and Exports to Russia Create Greatest Exposure Under New U.S. Ukraine-Related Sanctions

Updated as of March 3, 2022

Key Takeaways of EU and UK Recent Actions Against Russia and Ukraine Breakaway Regions

  • The EU adopted sanctions restrictions targeting financial institutions, other entities, and individuals, and imposing territorial restrictions on Donetsk and Luhansk. The sanctions also include broad export restrictions to Russia detailed below.
  • In the UK, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has promised and adopted a “massive package of economic sanctions” including asset freeze restrictions; potential exclusion of Russian banks from the UK financial system, including preventing access by such banks to GBP and clearing services in the UK; and dual-use export restrictions to Russia.


Continue Reading Russian Risk: Transactions with Russian Banks and Exports to Russia Create Greatest Exposure Under New EU and UK Ukraine-Related Sanctions

Updated as of February 25, 2022

Key Takeaways

  • On February 21, 2022, the White House issued a new Executive Order (EO) that imposes comprehensive sanctions


Continue Reading U.S., UK and EU Sanctions Over the Donetsk People’s Republic (DNR) and Luhansk People’s Republic (LNR) Regions of Ukraine