OFAC Settles Alleged Sanctions Violations for $88.3 million

On August 25, 2011, a major U.S. financial institution agreed to pay the U.S. Department of Treasury, Office of Foreign Assets Control (“OFAC”) $88.3 million to settle claims of violations of several U.S. economic sanctions programs. While OFAC settlements with financial institutions in recent years have involved larger penalty amounts, this August 2011 settlement is notable because of OFAC’s harsh—and subjective—view of the bank’s compliance program.

OFAC has primary responsibility for implementing U.S. economic sanctions against specifically designated countries, governments, entities, and individuals. OFAC currently maintains approximately 20 different sanctions programs. Each of those programs bars varying types of conduct with the targeted parties including, in certain cases, transfers of funds through U.S. bank accounts.

As reported by OFAC, the alleged violations in this case involved, among other conduct, loans, transfers of gold bullion, and wire transfers that violated the Cuban Assets Control Regulations, 31 C.F.R. Part 515, the Iranian Transactions Regulations, 31 C.F.R. Part 560, the Sudanese Sanctions Regulations, 31 C.F.R. Part 538, the Former Liberian Regime of Charles Taylor Sanctions Regulations, 31 C.F.R. Part 593, the Weapons of Mass Destruction Proliferators Sanctions Regulations, 31 C.F.R. Part 544, the Global Terrorism Sanctions Regulations, 31 C.F.R. Part 594, and the Reporting, Procedures, and Penalties Regulations, 31 C.F.R. Part 501.

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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