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Sanctions Round Up: Second Quarter 2019

This quarter, the Trump Administration continued its “maximum pressure” campaign against Iran, extending sanctions to its metals industries and senior officials as prospects of an EU alternative payment system all but collapsed. OFAC also maintained focus on Venezuela, disrupting the country’s oil revenues and its ties to Cuba. Meanwhile, OFAC published new guidance for building an effective sanctions compliance program and revised regulations governing reporting requirements. On track for a record number of enforcement actions, OFAC announced multiple resolutions, including settlements with three U.S. entities for arranging Cuba-related travel services. Finally, Turkey’s scheduled purchase of a Russia-developed defense system will test the Trump Administration’s resolve in imposing mandatory CAATSA sanctions.

Sanctions Round Up: First Quarter 2019

In this quarter, OFAC lifted sanctions on Rusal and other companies following divestment by Oleg Deripaska.  Meanwhile, as Venezuela descends into economic and political crisis, the US targeted PdVSA and others to hasten regime change.

Sanctions Round Up: Fourth Quarter 2018

Closing out 2018, OFAC announced its plan to lift sanctions against United Co. Rusal and others, despite bi-partisan opposition from Congress. Simultaneously, OFAC continued to target Russia’s defense and intelligence sectors for continued destabilizing activity in Ukraine, and worldwide elections interference.

FCPA Compliance Report Podcast – Episode 412

Partner Philip Urofsky (Washington, D.C.- Litigation) was interviewed in the FCPA Compliance Report Podcast, where he discussed some of the top highlights from Shearman & Sterling’s FCPA Digest 2019 with host Tom Fox. The episode aired in January 2019.

Sanctions Round Up: Second Quarter 2018

This quarter, companies around the globe prepared to exit Iran-related business in the wake of U.S. sanctions snap-back.  Meanwhile, OFAC provided a path to relief to designated Russian entities, extending several deadlines to allow for the continued divestment by their oligarch owners.  The U.S. took no new sanctions actions against North Korea as the two countries entered highly anticipated negotations surrounding denuclearization.  Finally, in its first enforcement action of the year, OFAC stressed the importance of empowering compliance personnel to prevent prohibited transactions.

Non-US Companies Face Challenges as US Sanctions on Iran Return

The U.S. exit from the Iran Deal and the return of U.S. sanctions on Iran will impact companies located around the world, particularly if they conduct some part of their business in the U.S. Partner Philip Urofsky (Washington, D.C.-Litigation) and Of Counsel Danforth Newcomb (New York-Litigation) look at which companies will be most affected and how they could respond.

Sanctions Round Up: First Quarter 2018

This quarter saw the announcement of sweeping new sanctions against Russia’s billionaire class and their corporate holdings, and included the Trump Administration’s first issuance of sanctions against Russia for meddling in the 2016 US presidential elections and other malign cyber activity.   These measures accompanied a general uptick in designations with respect to targets in North Korea, Venezuela, and Iran.  Notably, OFAC announced no enforcement actions in the first three months of the year.

Sanctions Round Up: Fourth Quarter 2017

Headlines from the final months of 2017 included the signing of a new executive order with global anti-corruption implications; new guidance on the Trump Administration’s approach to Russia sanctions under CAATSA; tightening of international sanctions against North Korea; and continued uncertainty surrounding the future of the US’s Iran policy. Enforcement ebbed this quarter, as OFAC announced just three actions against smaller entities for Cuba and Iran violations.

Sanctions Round Up: Third Quarter 2017

The third quarter was headlined by the imposition of broad new US legislative sanctions against Russia, Iran, and North Korea.  The Trump Administration also acted unilaterally to significantly expand sanctions against both North Korea and Venezuela, while removing decades-old sanctions against Sudan.  OFAC continued its recent trend of pursuing enforcement actions again non-financial entities.

Sanctions Round Up: First Half 2017

The first six months of the Trump Administration saw several notable developments for US sanctions, with particular implications for Russia and Iran.  The Administration also declared a shift in US policy toward Cuba.  Meanwhile, OFAC concluded a major enforcement effort against the Chinese firm ZTE, imposing the largest fine on record against a non-financial entity.

Trump’s More Restrictive Cuba Policy: Specifics to Come

On June 16, 2017 during a speech in Miami, President Trump announced changes to US sanctions targeting Cuba. The speech announced two substantial changes to the previous administration’s Cuban sanctions regime: first, the new policy will restrict business transactions with any entity affiliated with the Cuban military and second, the new policy will restrict people-to-people travel to Cuba. The outlines of the policy were announced in a Presidential Memorandum; however, the true shape of these changes will depend on yet to be issued amendments to the Cuban Assets Control Regulations. For businesses looking to understand the impact the new policy will have, the devil will be in those details.

Transacting Business During a Corruption Investigation

In recent years, government authorities have ever more rigorously pursued corruption. The number and magnitude of recent corruption investigations, particularly in Latin America, have raised questions about the implications for those doing business with entities ensnared in these investigations.

Urofsky and Torres-Fowler Co-Author FCPA Enforcement Article

Partner Philip Urofsky (Washington, DC-Litigation) and associate R. Zach Torres-Fowler (New York-International Arbitration) co-authored an article, titled “The Firtash Case May Present Jeff Sessions’ Department of Justice With Its First Real Test on FCPA Enforcement,” that was published in Bloomberg BNA’s Criminal Law Reporter on March 1.

Sanctions Round Up: Fourth Quarter 2016 and President Donald J. Trump

On November 8, 2016, Donald John Trump was elected the 45th President of the United States. Following fiery criticism of the Obama Administration’s sanctions policies, including the Iran deal, the lifting of substantial parts of the Cuban sanctions program, and the imposition of sanctions on Russia, it is likely that the new President will usher in a new era of US policy as it relates to Russian, Iran, and Cuban sanctions, although the nature, scope, and timing of such changes, not to mention Congressional views on certain of them, is still unknown.

NYS Department of Financial Services Outlines Requirements for Transaction Monitoring and Filtering Programs of NY State-Licensed Institutions

On June 30, 2016, the New York State Department of Financial Services (“NYSDFS”) adopted a final regulation outlining the attributes of a risk-based transaction monitoring and filtering program that certain New York State-licensed institutions now will be required to maintain (the “Final Rule”). The Final Rule includes several notable departures from the proposal that was issued by the NYSDFS on December 1, 2015 (the “Proposed Rule”). The Final Rule, which is the first significant rulemaking to be finalized under the direction of the new Superintendent of Financial Services, Maria T. Vullo, is another example of the NYSDFS asserting its role in establishing standards for compliance by banks with anti-money laundering, terrorist financing and sanctions laws.

To Self-Report or Not to Self-Report, That Remains the Question After the Justice Department’s Latest Effort to Encourage Self-Reporting

On April 5, 2016, the United States Department of Justice, Criminal Division, Fraud Section launched a one-year Pilot Program that invites companies to self-report potential violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (“FCPA”) to the FCPA Unit of the Justice Department in exchange for, among other things, up to a fifty percent reduction in criminal fines, declination and, where appropriate, settlements without a compliance monitor.

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