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Sanctions, AML, Anti-Corruption Insights
Doing Business in Emerging Markets, Global Magnitsky Sanctions, Sanctions, United States China Law and Policy

Corruption, Human Rights, and Geostrategy: U.S. Sanctions Belt & Road Project Company

The United States has targted a Belt& Road project with Global Magnitsky Sanctions. The move is significant, and might signal a ratcheting up of U.S. opposition to the BRI, which has largely comprised rhetoric, diplomatic lobbying, and relatively tepid competition, such as by the establishment of the U.S. International Development Finance Corporation (DFC).
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Doing Business in Emerging Markets, Global Magnitsky Sanctions, Sanctions, United States China Law and Policy

U.S. Targets Chinese Belt & Road Project With Global Magnitsky Sanctions

The Treasury Department’s announcement of the sanctions speaks to the foreign policy and geostrategic significance of the UDG sanctions action. The release speaks of China’s “malign” investment in Cambodia, its use of the UDG projects in Cambodia to “advance ambitions to project power globally,” “disproportionality benefit” itself through BRI projects, and concerns that the Dara Kakor project “could be converted to “host military assets.” The Treasury Department’s language echoes U.S. concerns about the BRI and other Chinese international project financing activities, including that China engages in “debt trap” financing.
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Russia Sanctions, Sanctions

U.S. Sanctions on Nord Stream 2 and TurkStream Pipeline Projects (PEESA)

On December 20, 2019, the President signed into law the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2020 (NDAA), which authorizes the President to impose sanctions on foreign persons that knowingly sell, lease, or provide vessels for the construction of the Nord Stream 2 or TurkStream pipeline projects. The policies advanced by the NDAA are consistent with prior U.S. policy and legislation, particularly the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act. This MassPoint publication discusses PEESA’s policies, sanctions mechanics, the relationship between PEESA and CAATSA, and key takeaways.
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Doing Business in Emerging Markets, Iran Sanctions, National Security Law, Sanctions, United States China Law and Policy

OFAC Cosco Shipping Tanker (Dalian) Co., Ltd. General License K: Analysis

General License K authorizes, until 12:01 eastern time on December 20, 2019 (essentially, through the end of December 19 eastern time), the above-listed prohibited transactions where they directly or indirectly involve Cosco or entities owned 50% by Cosco and are “ordinarily incident and necessary to the maintenance or wind down of transactions.”
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Anti-Corruption, Critical Minerals, Doing Business in the United States, MassPoint Legal and Strategy Advisory PLLC, MassPoint News

CFTC’s Corruption Crackdown Consistent With Trump Admin Strategy, Says Hdeel Abdelhady

Ms. Abdelhady addressed how the CFTC's current investigation of Glencore and its broader anti-corruption plans might fit with the Trump Administration's wider anti-corruption strategy targeting the extractives industry globally, as well as the how the CFTC, which lacks direct FCPA enforcement authority, might take a page from the NYDFS' playbook and indirectly enforce an anti-corruption agenda under the Commodities Exchange Act.
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Anti-money laundering, Banking Law & Regulation, Doing Business in the United States, MassPoint News, Sanctions

Global Payments: Hdeel Abdelhady on a Russia-led Non-Dollar Payments System

Hdeel Abdelhady shared her insights with PaymentsSource on a Russia-led effort to build a non-U.S. dollar payments system, to insulate against U.S. sanctions and U.S. control more broadly. Ms. Abdelhady has for years worked on the U.S.-dollar and financial system links to U.S. sanctions enforcement jurisdiction. Her work on the topic of U.S. dollar and financial system tied legal jurisdiction has been quoted, leveraged, and consulted frequently in the United States and abroad.
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Anti-money laundering, Banking Law & Regulation, Doing Business in the United States, Iran Sanctions, National Security Law, Sanctions

OFAC Expands Reporting Requirements

On June 21, the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) issued an interim final rule (IFR) substantially revising sanctions reporting regulations. The most significant amendment was to OFAC’s rejected transactions reporting rule, which now, for the first time, applies not just to U.S. financial institutions, but also to U.S. businesses, nonprofits, and individuals. The rule also appears to apply to foreign entities owned or controlled by U.S. persons. Public comments on the IFR are due by July 22, 2019.
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Banking Law & Regulation, Doing Business in Emerging Markets

In International Business, Sweat the “Small” Stuff

Business transactions necessarily become more complex when they involve two or more countries. Among other tasks, it is necessary to understand the content and applicability of foreign laws, retain local counsel, address conflict of law issues, and make (hopefully strategically, rather than as an afterthought) governing law and dispute resolution selections.The focus on more substance aspects of international transactions should not be exclusive.
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Iran Sanctions, MassPoint Legal and Strategy Advisory PLLC, MassPoint News, Sanctions

Hdeel Abdelhady on NPR: United States Ratchets Up Iran and North Korea Sanctions

MassPoint's Hdeel Abdelhady spoke with NPR about the ratcheting up of U.S. sanctions, secondary sanctions, and the potential consequences of sanctions overuse. To learn more about the mechanics of U.S. sanctions, and particularly about the role of the American dollar, financial system, and economy in extending the global reach of U.S. sanctions, read Hdeel Abdelhady's Reuters insight piece, Reimposed U.S. anti-Iran sanctions leverage American economic power.
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Anti-money laundering, Banking Law & Regulation, Doing Business in the United States

Bank Shareholders as Anti-Money Laundering Enforcers: Corporate Governance-AML Nexus

Two proxy advisors are urging Deutsche Bank's shareholders to vote against directors and senior managers for AML compliance lapses. The advice is significant as it clearly connects anti-financial crime compliance to corporate governance by activating bank shareholders as powerful enforcers anti-money laundering expectations. If Deutsche’s shareholders heed the calls of proxy advisors and unseat members of the bank’s management for AML lapses, they will set a cautionary precedent for other publicly-owned banks. But even if Deutsche’s shareholders do not so vote, the proxy advice given by ISS and ECGS has communicated a clear message that bank anti-money laundering compliance is part and parcel of corporate governance and a measure of directors’ and senior officers’ overall performance.
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Banking Law & Regulation, Doing Business in Emerging Markets, Doing Business in the United States, Russia Sanctions, Sanctions

Russia Sectoral Sanctions Directives Apply to Trade-Based Debt: Analysis

The Haverly case is instructive as it clarifies OFAC’s position, with respect to Haverly and likely more broadly, as to the meaning of “debt” under Directive 2, which prohibits, by U.S. persons and within the United States, dealings in “new debt” issued by parties that are listed on the OFAC-maintained Sectoral Sanctions Identifications List (SSIL) or not so listed but are owned 50% or more by one or more sanctioned parties.
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Anti-Corruption, Anti-money laundering, Banking Law & Regulation, Doing Business in Emerging Markets, Doing Business in the United States, Sovereign Immunity

Anti-Corruption Enforcement is Globalized

As anti-corruption standards and enforcement practices become more uniform, cooperation among enforcement authorities will increase in frequency and effectiveness. In the FCPA enforcement context and in others, authorities have imposed record-setting fines, and likely will continue to do so with greater frequency, particularly where violations are egregious, widespread, or have broad impact. In such an environment, monetary penalties for avoidable violations may no longer be absorbable as the cost of doing business. As a matter of good business practice, companies of all sizes should take steps to strengthen compliance programs appropriately for their industries, organizational structures, home obligations, and the jurisdictions in which they do business.
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Banking Law & Regulation, Doing Business in the United States, Iran Sanctions, Sanctions

OFAC Expanded General License for U.S. Persons to Transact in Certain Inherited and Other Property in Iran

Under amended Section 560.543 of the ISTR, individuals who are U.S. citizens and permanent residents[2]  “are authorized to engage in transactions necessary and ordinarily incident to the sale of real and personal property in Iran and to transfer the proceeds to the United States,” but only if the real and personal property was (1) “acquired before the individual became a U.S. person” or (2) was “inherited from persons in Iran.
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Academic Espionage, Academic Research, China Initiative, Doing Business in the United States, Foreign Agents Registration Act, Foreign Influence in Academia, National Security Law, Sanctions, Tech War, Technology Export Control, Technology Transfer, United States China Law and Policy, University Export Controls

U.S.-China Trade, Technology and American Academia: The DOJ China Initiative

On national security grounds, the United States is developing and implementing a whole-of-government approach to maintain the country’s technological edge through legal and policy measures to restrict Chinese access to U.S. technology and intellectual property, including by: (1) limiting or prohibiting certain foreign investment and commercial transactions; (2) adopting export controls on emerging technologies; (3) instituting supply chain exclusions; (4) curbing participation in academic and other research; and (5) combating cyber intrusions and industrial and academic espionage.[2] Additionally, concerns about Chinese government influence have spurred proposals to regulate the activities of entities viewed as Chinese government influence operators.
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Academic Espionage, Academic Research, China Initiative, Doing Business in Emerging Markets, Doing Business in the United States, Foreign Influence in Academia, Foreign Investment in the United States, National Security Law, Sanctions, Tech War, Technology and Human Rights, Technology Export Control, Technology Transfer, United States China Law and Policy

U.S.-China Trade, Technology & Global Policy Issues: INFOGRAPHIC

This graphic depicts key issues between the United States and China, as identified by the United States as of January 26, 2019. This is not an exhaustive depiction, but captures key categories and sub-categories of Chinese state and private practices, state policies, and state structural characteristics that are the subject of U.S. government complaints (as raised from within and outside of the Trump Administration).
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Anti-Corruption, Business Ethics & Conduct, Doing Business in Emerging Markets, Doing Business in the United States, National Security Law, United States China Law and Policy

Trump’s Africa Strategy Targets Corruption. Extractives, and Chinese Presence

The Trump Administration's newly released Africa Strategy is likely to bring greater anti-corruption enforcement, particularly against Chinese state-owned and private firms, as well as against African officials, and African and third country private parties. Extractives industries, particularly involving nonfuel minerals like cobalt, are likely to be of particular interest.
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Global Magnitsky Sanctions, Sanctions

Senate Bill Seeks Sanctions in Khashoggi Case, End to Yemen War

The Saudi Arabia Accountability and Yemen Act of 2018 seeks further sanctions for those responsible for the death of Jamal Khashoggi, including at the highest levels of the Saudi establishment, and an end to the war in Yemen. The Act adds a chapter to the unfolding story of Congress' increasing sanctions activism, stemming from a lack of faith that the Trump Administration will enforce sanctions with fidelity to law and national policy.
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Doing Business in Emerging Markets, Doing Business in the United States, Global Magnitsky Sanctions, Sanctions

Global Magnitsky Sanctions FAQs

The Global Magnitsky Act and Global Magnitsky Sanctions (GMS) are in the public discourse as a result of recent events, such as the case of U.S.-based journalist Jamal Khashoggi and the imposition of Global Magnitsky Sanctions on two Turkish officials in August. To help the public understand the Global Magnitsky framework, MassPoint Legal and Strategy Advisory has published the Global Magnitsky Sanctions FAQs
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Doing Business in the United States, MassPoint News, National Security Law, Sanctions, Tech War, United States China Law and Policy

U.S. Law as Trade War Weapon

The ZTE case puts into focus the Trump Administration’s apparent strategy to use U.S. sanctions, along with anti-corruption and anti-money laundering laws, as trade war weapons, specifically as “economic tools” and “tools of economic diplomacy” that “can be important parts of broader strategies to deter, coerce, and constrain adversaries.”
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Sanctions

USMCA Borrows From Secondary Sanctions Playbook to Freeze Out “Non-Market Economy” Nations

The recently published text of the United States-Mexico-Canada trade agreement (USMCA) includes a peculiar provision that confers on each of the parties the right to terminate the USMCA if any of the other parties enters into a "free trade agreement" (FTA) with a country determined by any of the USMCA countries to be a "non-market" economy. Insofar as the USMCA requires the parties to choose between maintaining the trilateral trade agreement or entering into an FTA with a non-market economy country, the USMCA imports the premise that underlies U.S. secondary sanctions.
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Anti-money laundering, Banking Law & Regulation

Banking Transparency for Sanctioned Persons

On September 7, 2018, Congresswoman Mia Love (R-UT) introduced in the House of Representatives H.R. 6751, the Banking Transparency for Sanctioned Persons Act of 2018 to "increase transparency with respect to financial services benefitting state sponsors of terrorism, human rights abusers, and corrupt officials.” This update discusses the Banking Transparency Act's provisions and what it conveys about the current U.S. legal climate around corruption and human rights sanctions, Congress’ increasingly activist sanctions posture, and the risk management and compliance inferences that U.S. and foreign financial institutions should draw from the Banking Transparency Bill when viewed in context.
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Business Ethics & Conduct, Doing Business in Emerging Markets, Global Magnitsky Sanctions, Sanctions, Tech War, Technology and Human Rights, United States China Law and Policy

Technology, Human Rights and Sanctions

Some Congress members are lobbying the Administration to impose human rights sanctions on Chinese officials and companies responsible for or complicit in abuses against China’s Uighur Muslim minority and other minorities. Two companies named, Dahua Technology and Hikvision, are very large, China-based global firms that produce surveillance products and systems. The bottom line is that the tech industry should take note of the development (even if no sanctions are imposed), as it foreshadows the legal and reputation risk issues they will, without doubt, face in connection with tech-enabled abuses, privacy encroachments, and other conduct by consumers of tech products and services.
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Anti-Corruption, Business Ethics & Conduct, Doing Business in Emerging Markets, Global Magnitsky Sanctions, Sanctions

Global Magnitsky: The Swiss Army Knife of Sanctions

The Global Magnitsky Sanctions apply worldwide, without any requirement of a jurisdictional nexus with the United States. They define corruption broadly enough to capture a wide range of conduct and persons. The sanctions target “serious human rights abuse,” but do not define the term. Moreover, the sanctions are readily deployable. No tailored legislation, executive order, or other administrative process—other than a sanctions determination by the Secretary of Treasury in consultation with the Secretary of State—is required to impose sanctions anywhere, anytime. Given their global reach, substantive breadth, and wide applicability, the Global Magnitsky Sanctions have distinct utility value as they can be readily employed for multiple legal, policy and strategic objectives. They are the Swiss Army Knife of sanctions. To date, 78 individuals and entities have been sanctioned for corruption and human rights abuses. The most recent of these sanctions actions, against Turkey, has triggered speculation as to its motives and objectives. This is discussed below, as are some of the provisions that suggest the Global Magnitsky Sanctions were formulated for sweeping applicability and enforcement latitude.
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Anti-Corruption, Doing Business in Emerging Markets, Global Magnitsky Sanctions, Sanctions

United States Sanctions High-Ranking Turkish Officials Under Global Magnitsky

Today the United States took the extraordinary step of imposing sanctions on Turkey's Minister of Justice Abdulhamit Gul and Minister of Interior Suleyman Soylu. The sanctions were imposed under the Global Magnitsky Sanctions program, promulgated by Executive Order 13818 pursuant to the Global Magnitsky Act of 2016 and the International Emergency Economic Powers Act, among other legal authorities.
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National Security Law, Sanctions

Senate Bill Seeks to Protect Magnitsky Law from Trump-Putin Deal

The introduction of legislation after the Helsinki summit to constrain the President's sanctions authority vis-a-vis Russia is not surprising. As anticipated in this MassPoint post of July 18, "the Helsinki meeting could have legal consequences, should Congress move to insert itself, beyond its standard law-making and oversight role, in sanctions and trade matters," including in the mold of CAATSA.
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Anti-Corruption, Sanctions

Russia Summit Could Spur Congressional Activism on Sanctions, Trade

The meeting in Helsinki between the U.S. and Russian presidents has (as presumably everyone knows) sparked strong reactions in the United States, particularly in response to the U.S. President's performance. Beyond the politics of the moment and its aftermath, the Helsinki meeting could have legal consequences, should Congress move to insert itself, beyond its standard law-making and oversight role, in sanctions and trade matters. And not just with respect to Russia. There are a number of ways that Congress can play a greater role in sanctions and trade. Such Congressional involvement, if it materializes, would likely be designed to constrain the President, such as by restricting his ability to lift, not impose or modify sanctions through Executive action.
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Banking Law & Regulation, Iran Sanctions, Sanctions

Personal Remittances and Proceeds of Inheritances from Iran After U.S. Withdrawal from Iran Deal

For U.S. persons seeking to engage in permitted noncommercial, personal remittance or inheritance-related transactions, the higher risk sensitivity of some third country (and U.S.-based) financial institutions may complicate (or thwart in some cases), legal transactions. In light of this, persons seeking to engage in such legal transactions in the post-U.S. JCPOA withdrawal environment should exercise extra care in initiating and executing legal transfers with third country financial institutions.
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Iran Sanctions, Sanctions

United States Sanctions Malaysia Agent of Iranian Airline

The Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) today sanctioned Malaysia-based Mahan Travel and Tourism Sdn Bhd ("Mahan Travel") pursuant to Executive Order  13,224. Rather then information should be taken as a prompt to other travel agencies or vendors that directly or indirectly “act for or on behalf of Mahan Air” to disassociate from the airline. Such other travel agencies or vendors should, at minimum, review and understand today’s Mahan Travel action, assess their sanctions and related risk (legal, commercial, etc.) and take defensive compliance steps that are appropriate to their sanctions/legal exposure and commercial position. The broader takeaway from today’s OFAC action against Mahan Travel is that it reinforces the fact that U.S. sanctions and other laws are global in reach. Non-U.S. parties should take note of their potential exposure to U.S. sanctions or other legal enforcement actions.
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Anti-Corruption, Anti-money laundering, Business Ethics & Conduct, Critical Minerals, Doing Business in Emerging Markets, Doing Business in the United States, MassPoint Legal and Strategy Advisory PLLC

Canary in the Cobalt Mine: Glencore Corruption Probe May Not Be a One Off

The U.S. arm of Glencore, the global commodities trading and mining giant, has been served a subpoena by the U.S. Department of Justice, according to news accounts. The DOJ's subpoena reportedly seeks documents and information pertaining Glencore's business in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Nigeria and Venezuela to assess potential violations of U.S. anti-money laundering laws and the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA), the principal U.S. law essentially prohibiting the bribery of foreign officials for business gain by U.S. companies and others subject to United States' jurisdiction (broadly construed and applied).The Glencore subpoena may not be a one-off and it should be viewed-- at least for risk assessment and compliance improvement purposes-- as potentially part of a larger U.S. strategy to proactively target corruption and, by extension, money laundering, in Africa and Africa's extractives industries. (The wider context is that the Trump Administration views U.S. anti-corruption, anti-money laundering and sanctions laws and their enforcement as "tools of economic diplomacy", including to advance trade and other policy objectives).
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Anti-Corruption, Business Ethics & Conduct, Global Magnitsky Sanctions, Sanctions

Global Magnitsky Regulations: U.S. Multinationals and Dual Citizens Have Heightened Sanctions Exposure

U.S. multinational companies/entities as well as dual citizens/nationals should understand their heightened sanctions exposure under the Global Magnitsky Act, EO 13,818 and the GloMag Regulations. Multinational companies/entities would be well-advised to update their risk-based compliance programs and educate their relevant personnel to make compliance more likely, including by avoiding inadvertent violations of the Global Magnitsky Act, EO 13,818 and the GloMag Regs.
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MassPoint Legal and Strategy Advisory PLLC, Sanctions, Tech War, Technology Export Control, Technology Transfer, United States China Law and Policy

ZTE: Was the Export Ban the Right Penalty?

The sentiments expressed by Senator Rubio and others reflect commercial, competition, policy, and strategic concerns held by business, policy makers, defense and national security officials, and others about China and Chinese firms like ZTE and Huawei. But when raised in the context of and as a justification for a specific legal enforcement action, the sentiments blur the lines between what should primarily be an enforcement based on facts and applicable laws, rather than an instrument for advancing wider policy objectives that are not specifically advanced by the laws applicable to the conduct for which ZTE was penalized. And, while Secretary Ross' stated rationale to impose the harsher penalty to change ZTE's behavior may have been sound, the recommendation of the career professionals with expertise in sanctions and export controls enforcement should, perhaps, have carried the day. Secretary Ross' description of the process leading to the export ban and the mess that has followed it give more reason to ask whether, in the first place, the export ban was the appropriate remedy as a matter of applicable laws and the objectives served by them.
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Anti-Corruption, Business Ethics & Conduct

The Value of Integrating News Awareness into Corporate Compliance and Risk Management

The case of Michael Cohen, “personal lawyer” to the U.S. President, continues to yield rich legal, compliance and risk management lessons for a growing group that includes U.S. and foreign companies, banks, lobbyists, government officials, and lawyers. Recent developments in the Cohen matter highlight how news awareness can enhance compliance and risk management for companies and others. Unlike AT&T and Novartis, most companies will not find themselves entangled in headline news of national importance, but enough of them are likely to get caught flat-footed by news about them or their business partners and peers (such as in the same industry, where news of one company’s bad behavior can lead law enforcement authorities to scrutinize peer companies in industry sweeps).
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Academic Espionage, Doing Business in the United States, Foreign Investment in the United States, Sanctions, Technology Export Control, Technology Transfer, United States China Law and Policy

U.S.-China Trade and Tech War on Three Fronts

Much of the talk of trade war between the United States and China, and perhaps other countries, has focused on traditional trade measures and counter-measures like tariffs that strike at the core of international trade: most basically, the movement of goods and services across international borders. But there are two additional fronts of a U.S.-China trade war (thus far): intellectual property and the use of U.S. sanctions and other laws to "coerce and deter" economic rivals like China.
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Doing Business in the United States, Foreign Investment in the United States, MassPoint Legal and Strategy Advisory PLLC, National Security Law, Sanctions, Tech War, Technology Export Control, Technology Transfer, United States China Law and Policy

House Bill “Blocks Bailout” of ZTE After Export Ban

On May 17, the House Appropriations Committee unanimously approved a measure to block the Commerce Department from using appropriated funds to alter the export ban (i.e., the “denial order”) that the agency activated against ZTE on April 15, 2018. The ZTE measure was approved as an amendment to the fiscal year 2019 bill funding the Departments of Commerce and Justice, Science, and Related Agencies (“Commerce Appropriations Bill”), which was approved by the Appropriations Committee on May 17.
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Anti-Corruption, Business Ethics & Conduct, Doing Business in Emerging Markets, Doing Business in the United States, Global Magnitsky Sanctions, Sanctions

Trump Administration Supercharged Global Magnitsky Corruption and Human Rights Sanctions

Beyond the parameters of the Global Magnitsky Act, EO 13818 markedly enlarges the range of sanctionable conduct and persons. The differences between the language of EO 13818 and the Global Magnitsky Act are substantive and significant. In several instances, EO 13818 expands sanctions by omitting the Act’s qualifying language, adding new bases for sanctions, and/or leaving key terms undefined. Key instances of EO 13818’s broad and/or uncertain language are discussed below.
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Banking Law & Regulation, Doing Business in Emerging Markets, Doing Business in the United States, Iran Sanctions, Sanctions

Iran Sanctions Update: U.S. Withdrawal From JCPOA

The United States today unilaterally withdrew from the Iran Nuclear Deal (the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA)). The U.S. Treasury Department and the White House have announced that those sanctions that were lifted as part of the JCPOA framework will, as expected, be re-imposed. The Office of Foreign Assets Control at Treasury (OFAC) announced today that it will institute 90-day and 180-day “wind down” periods, after which previously lifted U.S. sanctions will again take effect. For example: Starting August 7, 2018, the import to the United States of Iranian carpets and certain foodstuffs will be prohibited, as will the export and re-export to Iran of commercial passenger aircraft and related parts and services. Starting on November 5, 2018, foreign financial institutions will be subject to U.S. sanctions for transactions with the Iran Central Bank and designated Iranian financial institutions.
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Anti-Corruption, Anti-money laundering, Business Ethics & Conduct, China Initiative, Critical Minerals, Critical Resources, Doing Business in Emerging Markets, Doing Business in the United States, Global Magnitsky Sanctions, National Security Law, Sanctions, United States China Law and Policy

Trump Administration Targets Chinese Dominance, Corruption in Africa

Notably, in the two pages of the NSS that are devoted to the National Security Strategy in the Africa context, none of Africa’s 54 nations are mentioned, but China is named twice. The NSS notes with concern China’s “expanding . . . economic military presence in Africa, growing from a small investor in the continent two decades ago into Africa’s largest trading partner today.” China’s methods and influence in Africa are described unflatteringly.  “Some Chinese practices,” the NSS states bluntly, “undermine Africa’s long-term development by corrupting elites, dominating extractive industries, and locking countries into unsustainable and opaque debts and commitments.”
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Anti-Corruption, Anti-money laundering, Banking Law & Regulation, Doing Business in Emerging Markets, Global Magnitsky Sanctions, Sanctions

President Trump Promulgates Global Magnitsky Sanctions: EO 13818 Analysis

The Global Magnitsky Sanctions are extraordinary for a number of reasons. First, they are global in reach and require not jurisdictional nexus between the United States and the corrupt acts and human rights abuses they target. As to corruption, both the Global Magnitsky Act and EO 13818 define it broadly, well beyond U.S. and international frameworks that are concerned primarily or exclusively with bribery. The Global Magnitsky Sanctions also depart from U.S. and international anti-corruption frameworks by directly penalizing foreign government officials for corrupt acts. As discussed above, EO 13818 significantly expands the scope and reach of the Global Magnitsky Act and, in doing so, employs extraordinary theories of liability, such as strict and vicarious liability on the leaders or officials of any foreign entity that engaged in covered corrupt acts. Independently and together, the provisions of EO 13818 empower the United States, and particularly the Executive Branch, to sanction a wide range of persons and conduct without meeting the due process, evidentiary, or other requirements that would apply in U.S. courts. As indicated in a prior installment of this MassPoint series, 52 individuals and entities have so far been sanctioned under EO 13818. It remains to be seen how the Trump Administration (or subsequent administrations) will implement the Global Magnitsky Sanctions. For now, foreign persons in particular—both government and private—should familiarize themselves with the Global Magnitsky Sanctions and assess their risk for liability, particularly for facilitating corrupt acts such as by transferring the proceeds of corruption.
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Anti-Corruption, Anti-money laundering, Banking Law & Regulation

FinCEN Guidance on Customer Due Diligence (CDD) Rule 2018

The Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) on April 3, 2018 published guidance on the Customer Due Diligence Requirements for Financial Institutions rule (the "CDD Rule) that will come into effect on May 11, 2018. FinCEN's CDD Guidance, in the form of frequently asked questions, is comprised of 36 questions and answers covering a range of issues, from the scope of due diligence up the ownership chain of legal entities to due diligence requirements applicable (or not) to foreign banks.
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Anti-Corruption, Doing Business in the United States, Global Magnitsky Sanctions, Sanctions

U.S. Multinationals, Dual Citizens May Have Greater Magnitsky Sanctions Exposure

The Global Magnitsky Act defines a "foreign person" as "any citizen or national of a foreign state (including any such individual who is also a citizen or national of the United States), or any entity not organized solely under the laws of the United States or existing solely in the United States." Accordingly, under the Global Magnitsky Act, individuals who are dual (or more) nationals and companies that are organized under U.S. law(s) and foreign law(s) or exist (e.g., are present, authorized to conduct business) in the United States and one or more foreign jurisdictions, like “foreign persons” completely lacking U.S. status, are apparently subject to sanctions for committing or facilitating sanctionable corrupt acts and human rights abuses. Thus, these  "U.S. Persons," when regarded as "foreign persons" under the Global Magnitsky Act, have additional sanctions exposure that would not apply to, for example, individuals holding only U.S. citizenship or companies organized only under U.S. law(s) and existing only in the United States.
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Anti-Corruption, Global Magnitsky Sanctions, Sanctions

From Sergei Magnitsky to Global Magnitsky: United States Asserts Universal Jurisdiction Over Corruption and Human Rights Abuses

As the above description indicates, the Sergei Magnitsky Act targets persons and places tied to specific events that occurred in one country. Moreover, the Sergei Magnitsky Act can be read to have been adopted or operate as an alternative or last recourse for justice and accountability, following Congress’ findings that there was a denial of “any justice or legal remedies” to Mr. Magnitsky by “all state bodies of the Russian Federation” and “impunity since his death of state officials.” In contrast, the Global Magnitsky Act contains no analogous Congressional findings, nor does it expressly state or imply that it is a last or alternative resort where adequate legal processes to adjudicate corruption or human rights abuses are unavailable in foreign countries where relevant events took place or parties are located, or before foreign tribunals to which relevant states have submitted to jurisdiction. Instead, the Global Magnitsky Act’s default position is the applicability of U.S. sanctions (supported by “credible evidence”) without the requirement of a jurisdictional nexus with the United States. Accordingly, the Global Magnitsky Act asserts U.S. universal jurisdiction over the corrupt acts and human rights abuses it targets. EO 13818 goes much further.
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Business Ethics & Conduct, Global Magnitsky Sanctions, Sanctions

From Sergei Magnitsky to Global Magnitsky: United States Sanctions Corruption and Human Rights Abuses Globally

The financial penalties imposed by the Global Magnitsky Sanctions (and other U.S. sanctions programs) are powerful, as they effectively cut off sanctioned persons from the U.S. financial system and, substantially, U.S. dollar transactions. Given the size and centrality of the U.S. financial system to international commerce and payments, persons without access to U.S. banks and other constituent parts of the U.S. financial system are largely shut out of the international financial system (this assumes, of course, effective enforcement and compliance by U.S. authorities, banks and international financial system participants). Put in context, the United States’ Global Magnitsky Act and sanctions program are singular in their force. Other countries have adopted versions of a Magnitsky Act (including Canada, which has imposed sanctions under its law), but none of these other Magnitsky frameworks rival the potential sweep and impact of the United States’ Magnitsky framework.
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Anti-Corruption, Business Ethics & Conduct, Global Magnitsky Sanctions, Sanctions

U.S. Magnitsky Sanctions Are a Powerful Weapon Against Corruption and Human Rights Abuse

EO 13818 directly targets foreign government officials and private parties who commit or enable human rights abuses and certain corrupt acts. The Order also employs extraordinary theories of liability. For example, EO 13818 holds current and former “leaders” of foreign entities (government and private) strictly and vicariously liable—and thus sanctionable—for the corrupt acts, during a leader’s tenure, of their entities. The Order also imputes the sanctioned status of a blocked private or government entity to its current or former “leaders,” if the entity was blocked “as a result of activities related to the leader’s or official’s tenure.” Additionally, EO 13818 treats as a corrupt act the transfer or facilitation of the transfer of corrupt proceeds by current or former foreign government officials and “persons acting for or on their behalf.” These three bases for liability, among others, are unique to EO 13818—they are not provided for by the Global Magnitsky Act.
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Iran Sanctions, National Security Law, Sanctions

Hostility Toward Iran Nuclear Deal May Have Chilling Effect on Legal Transactions Under U.S. Sanctions

The prospect of increasingly hostile policy and legal actions toward Iran may be enough to thwart or make more difficult Iran-related transactions that are (and might remain) legal. Parties planning to engage in such legal Iran-related transactions should take note and, if appropriate, action ahead of any changes in law or adjustments in Iran-related risk-assessments by banks and individual and commercial parties.
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Anti-money laundering, Banking Law & Regulation

Wolfsberg Group Revised Correspondent Banking Due Diligence Questionnaire (2018)

The Wolfsberg Group first announced the release of the CBDDQ in 2017. However, the Group did not make the CBDDQ widely available. After initially announcing the CBDDQ, the Wolfsberg Group held back after deciding that the CBDDQ should be published more widely “once an additional set of materials has been completed . . . in order to limit the ability of third parties to interpret what it is that the Group intended with the DDQ and who it was directed to.”
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Banking Law & Regulation, Sanctions

Ukraine/Russia Sanctions: OFAC Authorizes Derivatives Linked to Prohibited Debt and Equity Under OFAC Directives 1, 2 or 3

As discussed in an earlier MassPoint Business Update on OFAC Directive 1, it was expected that OFAC would issue, by November 28, 2017, a general license authorizing derivative transactions in prohibited debt and equity (see table below), consistent with the debt maturity limitations imposed by CAATSA. General License 1B does not authorize primary transactions by U.S. persons (wherever located) or in the United States in assets subject to the prohibitions of Directives 1, 2, or 3.
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Anti-Corruption, Anti-money laundering, Business Ethics & Conduct, Doing Business in Emerging Markets, Doing Business in the United States, MassPoint Legal and Strategy Advisory PLLC, MassPoint News, Sanctions

Hdeel Abdelhady to Speak on Managing Money Laundering, Trade Sanctions, and Corruption Risks

MassPoint’s Founder and Principal, Hdeel Abdelhady, will speak at a program on managing money laundering, trade sanctions, and corruption risks in business. The program, entitled “Know Your Business Partners: A Must to Managing Money Laundering, Trade Sanctions, and Corruption Risks,” will take place on November 17, 2017 in Washington, D.C. at the American Bar Association Business Law Section’s Fall 2017 Meeting.
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Anti-money laundering, Banking Law & Regulation

Wolfsberg Group Updates Correspondent Banking Due Diligence Questionnaire

The Wolfsberg Group, a group of thirteen global banks, on October 15, 2017 announced its issuance of a “comprehensively” updated Correspondent Banking Due Diligence Questionnaire (the “CBDDQ”). The CBDDQ responds to FATF Recommendation 13 on Correspondent Banking and is the international correspondent banking standard on which the Wolfsberg Group members have “settled“, “committed to being early adopters of,” and plan to support “with FAQ’s and additional awareness raising materials.”
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Banking Law & Regulation, National Security Law, Russia Sanctions, Sanctions

OFAC DIRECTIVE 1 AS AMENDED SEPTEMBER 29, 2017

As required by the Countering Russian Influence in Europe and Eurasia Act of 2017 (CRIEEA), the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) on September 29, 2017 amended and reissued OFAC Directive 1 (Directive 1). As amended, Directive 1 continues to prohibit certain “new” debt, equity, and related transactions involving entities subject to U.S. Sectoral Sanctions targeting Russia’s financial services sector. This Business Update discusses the background to and mechanics of Directive 1 as amended and reissued.
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Anti-Corruption, Anti-money laundering, Banking Law & Regulation, National Security Law

Banks, Credit Unions and Other Financial Insitutions as Deputized Law Enforcement

The logic and law enforcement value of imposing anti-financial crime obligations on financial intermediaries are clear. Nevertheless, a reassessment is now appropriate, particularly given (1) increasing legal and regulatory demands on financial intermediaries; (2) the exclusion, through “derisking,” from the financial system of small and medium businesses (SMEs), nonprofit organizations, money services businesses (MSBs), and correspondent relationship-dependent banks; and, (3) overarching questions as to whether the financial and administrative costs of compliance within the current legal framework—generally or at specific points—yield commensurate law enforcement benefits without unduly harming the legitimate interests of individuals, businesses and other financial system stakeholders.
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Anti-Corruption, Anti-money laundering, Doing Business in the United States

FinCEN Expands Geographic Targeting Orders

On August 22, 2017, the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) issued revised Geographic Targeting Orders (GTOs) designed to combat money laundering and related financial crimes in select U.S. residential real estate markets. The GTOs further expand the scope of GTOs issued in January 2016, expanded in July 2016, and renewed in February 2017. In tandem with the August GTOs, FinCEN issued an Advisory to Financial Institutions and Real Estate Firms and Professionals (the “Advisory”) and FAQs.
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Doing Business in Emerging Markets, Sanctions

House Bill Would Enhance U.S. States’ Iran Sanctions Authority

On July 26, 2017, a bill was introduced in the House that would bolster U.S. states’ authority to impose sanctions on parties that engage in certain business with or in Iran. The State Sanctions Against Iranian Terrorism Act, H.R. 3425, would “amend the Comprehensive Iran Sanctions, Accountability, and Divestment Act of 2010 to secure the authority of State and local governments to adopt and enforce measures restricting investment in business enterprises in Iran, and for other purposes.”
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Anti-money laundering, Banking Law & Regulation, National Security Law

House Bill Would Establish National Strategy for Combating Terrorism Financing

On July 20, 2017, Representative Ted Budd (R-NC) introduced in the House of Representatives H.R. 3321, the “National Strategy for Combating Terrorist, Underground, and Other Illicit Financing Act.” The purpose of H.R. 3321 is to “require the establishment of a national strategy for combating the financing of terrorism and related financial crimes, and for other purposes.” As summarized by the House Financial Services Committee, which will meet to markup the bill on July 25, 2017, H.R. 3321 would among other measures “require the President, acting through the Treasury Secretary, to develop and publish a whole-of-government strategy to combat money laundering and terrorist financing.”
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Anti-Corruption

World Bank Accountability Act of 2017

The stated purpose of the World Bank Accountability Act of 2017 is to “increase accountability, combat corruption, and strengthen management effectiveness at the World Bank.” Among other measures, H.R. 3326 would, as summarized by the Financial Services Committee, “withhold a portion of future appropriations for the World Bank until the Treasury Department reports that the World Bank has undertaken reforms to fight corruption, strengthen management accountability, and undermine violent extremism.” In addition, the World Bank Accountability Act of 2017 would “authorize the Trump Administration’s request for reduced funding to the Bank’s International Development Association.”
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Anti-money laundering, Doing Business in Emerging Markets

Congressional Hearing: Managing Terrorism Financing Risk in Remittances and Money Transfers

The U.S. House of Representatives Financial Services Committee (the “FSC“) Terrorism and Illicit Finance Subcommittee will on July 18, 2017 hold a hearing entitled “Managing Terrorism Financing Risk in Remittances and Money Transfers.” The FSC memorandum to all of its members states that the “hearing will explore the terrorist and illicit financing risks that are inherent in any form of asset transfer whether through formal banking channels, MSBs, other legitimate remittance networks, or through informal and unregulated value-transfer systems.”
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Banking Law & Regulation, National Security Law, Sanctions

Do State Regulators Like the NYDFS Have Authority to Enforce OFAC Sanctions?

the enforcement of OFAC-administered sanctions by a state agency—even against banks by a banking regulator operating in a dual banking system—raises fundamental constitutional and other legal questions. Chief among them is the overarching question of whether U.S. states have authority to directly or effectively enforce OFAC-administered sanctions, particularly independently and prior to enforcement by competent federal authorities—namely OFAC. This question and some of the legal issues and policy and practical considerations appertaining to it are discussed in detail in a forthcoming publication. This document provides a summary preview of some of the key legal issues discussed in that publication. Additional summary previews may be provided separately.
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Anti-money laundering

Correspondent Banking and Derisking Update

Ahead of the upcoming G20 meeting, the Financial Stability Board (FSB) published today, July 4, 2017, a progress report on efforts to address the withdrawal of correspondent banking relationships (derisking) and its action plan to assess and address derisking. Among the areas of concern and action items identified by the FSB are remittances and building the capacity of affected respondent bank jurisdictions to effectively identify and counter money laundering, terrorism finance, and other illicit financial activities. Importantly, the FSB has stated that its efforts will focus not just on legislation and rule-making in respondent jurisdictions, but also on the capacity of those jurisdictions to implement and enforce stronger AML/CFT and other anti-financial crime rules.
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Anti-Corruption, Anti-money laundering, Doing Business in Emerging Markets, Doing Business in the United States

Sovereign Commercial Enterprises: Anti-Corruption and Confidentiality Risks

State-owned enterprises (SOEs, including sovereign wealth funds) are prominent players in international business. Given their ownership, SOEs have garnered scrutiny for their lack of transparency and heightened anti-corruption and anti-money laundering risk, as have individual SOE executives and other personnel who qualify as Politically Exposed Persons. In connection with commercial activities, SOEs are not protected in most cases by sovereign immunity. Thus, SOEs can, like their privately-owned counterparts, be subject to foreign legal processes. Given the greater scrutiny around SOEs and some of the high profile enforcement actions involving them directly or indirectly (for example, the 1MDB case), anti-corruption and other compliance, as well as good governance and risk management, are essential to avoid legal, commercial, and reputational risk and loss.
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Anti-money laundering, Banking Law & Regulation

Basel Committee Clarifies Guidance on Countering Money Laundering and Terrorism Financing in Correspondent Banking

With respect to foreign correspondent banking, the Guidelines’ clarifications are designed to respond to the withdrawal of correspondent banking relationships (derisking) that have adversely affected banks and, in some cases, entire regions. Accordingly, Annex 2 of the Guidelines includes a list of risk factors that “correspondent banks should consider in their risk assessment of money laundering and financing of terrorism associated with correspondent banking.”
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Anti-Corruption, Doing Business in Emerging Markets

Abu Dhabi Global Market to Offer Foundation Vehicle

Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM), the international financial center and free zone located on Al Maryah Island in the UAE capital Abu Dhabi, yesterday opened a public consultation on the ADGM’s proposed foundation regime (Consultation Paper No. 3 of 2017 and proposed Foundations Regulations 2017). The development is significant and positive, as the ADGM foundation, as proposed, would be the first-of-its kind in the UAE and particularly helpful for family businesses, philanthropy and wealth management in the UAE and the Middle East more broadly. The foundation model proposed is based on the civil law foundation, as it is an incorporated entity (with independent legal personality) with characteristics analogous to some features of the common law trust.
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Doing Business in Emerging Markets, Sanctions, United States China Law and Policy

China’s One Belt One Road Could Disrupt U.S. Legal Dominance

The OBOR, even if partially successful, would, as many analysts and commentators have noted, alter the global trade landscape, if not “shake up” the global economic order in place since the end of World War II. Less discussed (except, for example, in this 2015 MassPoint Occasional Note) is one likely secondary effect of the OBOR and other trade and finance initiatives that are not centered on the U.S. dollar or the Bretton Woods system: the likely curtailment of the global reach of U.S. law.
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Anti-money laundering, Banking Law & Regulation, Doing Business in the United States, National Security Law

Congressional Hearing on Terrorism Financing Probes Bank Secrecy Act Data Effectiveness, Potential BSA Amendments

On April 27, 2017, I attended a Congressional hearing on “Safeguarding the Financial System from Terrorist Financing,” held by the House Committee on Financial Services’ Subcommittee on Terrorism and Illicit Finance (the “Subcommittee”). The sole witness was Mr. Jamal El-Hindi, Acting Director of the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), a bureau of the U.S. Department of the Treasury charged with protecting the financial system from money laundering, terrorism financing and other illicit activities. The hearing’s purposes were to examine the methods and efficacy of FinCEN data collection, processing and information sharing and whether the Bank Secrecy Act (BSA) and USA PATRIOT Act should be amended to improve FinCEN’s anti-money laundering (AML) and counter-terrorism financing (CFT) capacities and performance. In this brief MassPoint update, I highlight BSA data collection and usage numbers and some of the questions and issues that appeared to be of particular interest and/or concern to Congress members in attendance, taking into account the nature and frequency of the questions asked, the tone of questions, and related requests for additional or clarifying information from FinCEN.
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Anti-Corruption, Anti-money laundering

Money Laundering and Lawyers’ Obligations After the Panama Papers

As Co-Chair of the Middle East Committee of the American Bar Association Section of International Law, MassPoint's Hdeel Abdelhady organized and will moderate a program on lawyers' obligations to detect and report illicit client activity, in particular money laundering. Lawyers in the EU, for example, have been required for years to perform client due diligence and file suspicious activity reports (SARs) in accordance EU anti-money laundering directives. U.S. lawyers have no parallel obligations; however, U.S. lawyers are prohibited by rules of professional conduct from knowingly allowing their services to be used for unlawful purposes. The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) has described the inapplicability to U.S. lawyers of customer due diligence (CDD) and SAR filing requirements as a weak spot in the U.S. anti-money laundering framework. Members of Congress have introduced legislation to apply such obligations to U.S. lawyers, and to require U.S. lawyers to collect and share with law enforcement authorities beneficial ownership information where lawyers directly form companies, trusts, and certain other entities for clients.
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Anti-Corruption, Business Ethics & Conduct

Identifying UAE “Foreign Officials” for Anti-Corruption Compliance Purposes

Companies and other organizations doing business in the UAE or with enterprises owned in part by a UAE Government party at any level (e.g., the federal/union government or a government of one of the country's constituent emirates (e.g., Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Ras al Khaimah), or entities owned in part by any of them, should be aware that under UAE law, the definition of "public official" (i.e., a government official) includes employees and directors of enterprises in which a UAE Government party holds less than a majority ownership stake and does not, formally or effectively, exercise control.
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Anti-money laundering, Banking Law & Regulation

Senate Bill to Combat ISIS Targets “Jurisdictions of Terrorism Financing Concern”

On February 13, 2017, Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) introduced in the Senate the “Stop Terrorist Operational Resources and Money Act” (the “STORM Act”). The purpose of the STORM Act is to “establish a designation for jurisdictions permissive to terrorism financing, to build the capacity of partner nations to investigate, prosecute, and hold accountable terrorist financiers, to impose restrictions on foreign financial institutions that provide financial services for terrorist organizations, and for other purposes.” The STORM Act would permit the President to designate a country as a “Jurisdiction of Terrorism Financing Concern” upon determining that “government officials know, or should know, that activities are taking place within the country that substantially finance the operations of, or acts of international terrorism by, foreign terrorist organizations.”
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Anti-money laundering, Banking Law & Regulation

Trump’s Foreign Policy May Further Strain Foreign Correspondent Banking (Derisking)

The Trump Administration's positions on countering the financing of terrorism were articulated by Treasury Secretary nominee Steven Mnuchin during his confirmation hearings, where he expressed his commitment to working unilaterally and multilaterally to combat terrorism financing (see, for example, hearing segment starting at 55:18). The Administration's interest in strengthening CFT is shared on the other side of Pennsylvania Avenue, where the U.S. House of Representatives' Committee on Financial Services recently released the results of a 2-year investigation of terrorism financing and, among other measures, recommended that the United States adopt a "whole-of-government" strategy to combat terrorism financing.
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Anti-Corruption, Anti-money laundering, Doing Business in the United States, MassPoint Legal and Strategy Advisory PLLC, MassPoint News, Sanctions

IRAN AFTER PARTIAL SANCTIONS RELIEF AND U.S. ELECTIONS

MassPoint PLLC, with the American Bar Association Section of International Law and Bryan Cave LLP, are sponsoring a program entitled "Iran After Partial Sanctions Relief and U.S. Elections: Legal, Risk, and Practical Issues for Business." Hdeel Abdelhady, who wrote and organized the program, will serve as moderator.
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Anti-Corruption, Anti-money laundering, Banking Law & Regulation, Doing Business in the United States, Sanctions

State Enforcement of OFAC Sanctions Against Banks

Beyond case recitations and optics, the enforcement of OFAC-administered sanctions by a state agency—even against banks by a banking regulator operating in a dual banking system—raises fundamental constitutional and other legal questions. Chief among them is the overarching question of whether U.S. states have authority to directly or effectively enforce OFAC-administered sanctions, particularly independently and prior to enforcement by competent federal authorities—namely OFAC. This question and some of the legal issues and policy and practical considerations appertaining to it are discussed in detail in a forthcoming publication. This document provides a summary preview of some of the key legal issues discussed in that publication. Additional summary previews may be provided separately.
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Doing Business in the United States, National Security Law, Sanctions

Do State Regulators Have Authority to Enforce OFAC Sanctions?

The enforcement of OFAC-administered sanctions by a state agency—even against banks by a banking regulator operating in a dual banking system—raises fundamental constitutional and other legal questions. Chief among them is the overarching question of whether U.S. states have authority to directly or effectively enforce OFAC-administered sanctions, particularly independently and prior to enforcement by competent federal authorities—namely OFAC. This question and some of the legal issues and policy and practical considerations appertaining to it are discussed in detail in a forthcoming publication. This document provides a summary preview of some of the key legal issues discussed in that publication. Additional summary previews may be provided separately.
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Anti-Corruption, Anti-money laundering, Banking Law & Regulation, Doing Business in Emerging Markets

Politically Exposed Persons and State-Owned Enterprises: Anticorruption – AML Nexus

Recent investigations of financial institutions for "corrupt" hiring of foreign officials' family members highlight links between anticorruption and AML compliance and enforcement. Financial institutions dealing with politically exposed persons and state-owned enterprises should leverage AML expertise to bolster anticorruption compliance.
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Anti-money laundering, Doing Business in Emerging Markets, Sanctions

Non-Dollar Trade Could Curtail the Global Reach of U.S. Sanctions and Other Laws

American economic and financial heft facilitates the extraterritorial reach of U.S. law. For example, global transactions that are denominated in U.S. dollars and processed through the U.S. financial system “touch” the United States, come within its jurisdiction and create a jurisdictional nexus to foreign parties, property and events associated with those transactions.
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Banking Law & Regulation, Sanctions

U.S. Sectoral Sanctions Targeting Russian Financial Services: OFAC Directive 1

Among those added to the SSIL on July 30 are the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) and other entities identified by OFAC as being owned 50% or more by Russian state development bank Vnesheconombank (VEB). VEB itself was added to the SSIL on July 16, 2014, the same day on which OFAC first issued Directive 1, the relevant financial services sanctions implementing measure discussed in detail below (as applicable to the VEB-owned entitles and generally). The July 30 action is significant more for its likely practical impact, rather than its immediate legal meaning. This is so because the relevant VEB-owned entities, while not previously listed on the SSIL, have nevertheless been subject to Sectoral Sanctions since July 16, 2014.[iii] The VEB’s sanctioned status as of July 16, 2014 was imputed to its owned entities on the same day by operation of OFAC’s “50% Rule,” which attaches to entities owned 50% or more by one or more SSIL entities (individually or in the aggregate) the sanctions status of their owner(s), even if such owned entities are not separately listed on the SSIL. The 50% Rule significantly expands the potential scope of Sectoral Sanctions and corresponding compliance obligations. Effectively, the 50% Rule requires parties to determine, at every link in the ownership chain (vertically and horizontally), whether one or more SSIL entities (alone or in the aggregate) directly or indirectly owns 50% or more of a relevant entity. This can be particularly burdensome where corporate structures are complex and/or opaque.
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Russia Sanctions, Sanctions

OFAC Directive 1: Financing, Debt & Equity Prohibitions

On July 30, 2015, the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) made explicit the sanctioned status of certain entities operating in Russia’s financial services sector by adding them to the Sectoral Sanctions Identifications List (SSIL).The SSIL identifies parties subject to U.S. Sanctions targeting specific sectors of the Russian economy (Sectoral Sanctions) within the framework of Ukraine/Russia-related sanctions adopted in response to events in Ukraine. Currently Russia’s financial services, defense, and energy sectors are targeted. Nevertheless, they may encounter legal, commercial, or reputational risk in the context of current or planned business with or involving a sanctioned entity, whether listed on the SSIL (or another sanctions list) or sanctioned as a matter of law (such as under the 50% Rule).
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Anti-Corruption, Anti-money laundering, Banking Law & Regulation, Doing Business in Emerging Markets, Sanctions

Non-Dollar Trade May Stem Extraterritorial Reach of U.S. Law

The United States is singularly positioned (and willing) to leverage its economic and financial strength to enforce its laws and policies globally. American economic and financial heft facilitates the extraterritorial reach of U.S. law. Global transactions that are denominated in U.S. dollars and processed through the U.S. financial system “touch” the United States, come within its jurisdiction and create a jurisdictional nexus to foreign parties, property and events associated with those transactions.The rise of the renminbi and non-dollar trade and finance channels such as One Belt One Road, the BRICs Bank, and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank could curtail the global, extraterritorial reach of U.S. law.
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Anti-Corruption, Anti-money laundering, Banking Law & Regulation

Cross Compliance for Financial Institutions: Anti-Corruption – Anti-Money Laundering Nexus

Enforcement authorities in the US and Asia reportedly are investigating financial institutions for potentially corrupt employment and business relationships with family members of government officials. The investigations underscore policy links between anti-corruption and anti-money laundering regimes where dealings with Politically Exposed Persons (PEPs) are involved. This article, published by Hdeel Abdelhady in Butterworths Journal of Banking and Financial Law, briefly discusses the pending investigations and the anti-corruption-AML policy nexus, and suggests, with respect to PEPs and more generally, that financial institutions facilitate fluidity in their compliance programs to allow for the sharing of information and adaptation of compliance protocols across (sometimes impermeable) internal functional and disciplinary lines.
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