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Compliance lessons in recent Office of Foreign Assets Control enforcement
In May 2019, the US Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), which administers US sanctions laws, issued a broad framework identifying what OFAC views as the essential elements of risk-based sanctions compliance. At the same time, OFAC announced that it would consider how well these elements have been incorporated when considering its enforcement response to sanctions violations. While providing general guidance, the framework provides little in the way of practical detail to assist financial institutions with incorporating the framework into their organisations. Perhaps in recognition, OFAC recommended that all organisations review enforcement actions published by OFAC for purposes of reassessing and enhancing sanctions compliance. This paper is intended to help financial institutions comply with OFAC’s recommendation by identifying critical guidance and common pitfalls in a survey of post-framework enforcement actions.
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Ben Hutten is Counsel at Buckley LLP. He provides regulatory and compliance counsel, as well as internal investigative and enforcement defense services, to foreign and domestic financial institutions. He has represented numerous foreign financial institutions in cross-border, multiagency criminal and regulatory investigations into past compliance with US sanctions and anti-money laundering (AML) laws and regularly provides representation in front of the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC). Benjamin has a deep understanding of sanctions and AML regulations and enforcement. In addition to his client work, he has participated in numerous financial industry group regulatory initiatives related to sanctions and AML issues, including The Clearing House Guiding Principles for Anti-Money Laundering Policies and Procedures in Correspondent Banking, initiatives to address ‘de-risking’, and initiatives related to AML-related information sharing. Benjamin also conducts international trainings in AML and sanctions issues for the Financial Services Volunteer Corps. Buckley LLP offers premier government enforcement, litigation, compliance, regulatory and transactional services to US and international financial institutions, corporates and individuals, with a core strength in financial services.