On November 21, 2023, the U.S. Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) announced its largest settlement in history with the virtual currency exchange Binance. This almost-billion dollar settlement is a part of a larger comprehensive settlement with the Department of Justice, FinCEN, and the CFTC, totaling over $4 billion. OFAC found that Binance had allowed 1.6 million transactions in violation of multiple sanctions regimes while Binance’s C-Suite was complicit. Binance’s blunders that led to this enforcement action highlight the importance of management commitment to compliance programs.[1]Continue Reading Binance’s Paper Compliance Program Crumples Under OFAC Scrutiny in Largest OFAC Settlement in History

On June 23, 2023, the EU released its 11th package of sanctions on Russia. This package is designed to improve enforcement with new anti-circumvention rules, new trade restrictions, and new designations. The anti-circumvention rules are quite a novel aspect and could result in the first extraterritorial reach of European sanctions.Continue Reading The EU’s 11th Sanctions Package: The Long(er) Arm of the Law

On March 31, 2023, the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) announced a $72,230.32 settlement agreement with Uphold HQ Inc. (Uphold), a global multi-asset digital trading platform, in connection with 152 apparent violations of the Iranian Transactions and Sanctions Regulations, the Cuban Assets Control Regulations, and Executive Order (E.O.) 13884. OFAC continues to focus on the virtual currency ecosystem which we have discussed here (Kraken) and here (Bittrex). This settlement provides another look at important compliance considerations for companies operating in the digital asset industry and a few practical tips.Continue Reading OFAC Finds Digital Assets Trading Platform in Violation of Sanctions

On March 2, 2023, Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco delivered remarks to the ABA’s National Institute on White Collar Crime. Unsurprisingly, her remarks focused heavily on inspiring a culture of compliance – including highlighting the DOJ’s new policy to incentivize companies to self-report criminal activity (which our Organizational Integrity Group discusses here). But, her remarks also emphasized an emerging priority for DOJ enforcement: the intersection of corporate crime and national security.Continue Reading “Sanctions Are The New FCPA”: DOJ Increases Focus on Sanctions and Export Control Enforcement

In response to Russia’s ongoing aggression in Ukraine, both the United States and the European Union have imposed additional sanctions and further restricted exports to Russia and Iran. These new controls span many industries.Continue Reading Friday Development: New Sanctions and Export Controls to Address Russia’s Ongoing Aggression in Ukraine (Including the use of Iranian UAVs)

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