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Abena Mainoo’s practice focuses on investigations and civil litigation.

On July 26, 2023, the U.S. Department of Justice’s National Security Division, the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security, and the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control jointly issued a compliance note summarizing voluntary self-disclosure policies applicable to U.S. sanctions, export controls, and other national security laws.

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In a recent opinion, U.S. Magistrate Judge Zia M. Faruqui of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia held that there is probable cause to find that a U.S. citizen-defendant violated U.S. sanctions by funneling cryptocurrency to a payments platform that the defendant operated in a “comprehensively sanctioned country.”
Continue Reading U.S. Federal Judge Finds Probable Cause for Conspiracy to Violate U.S. Sanctions and to Defraud the United States in First Published Opinion Discussing U.S. Sanctions Violations Involving Use of Cryptocurrency

U.S. federal and state authorities recently announced actions that are designed to give effect to economic measures taken against Russia and hold accountable those who violate U.S. laws.  These developments suggest that U.S. authorities’ focus on enforcing U.S. sanctions and export controls, anticorruption and anti-money laundering laws, and the growing scrutiny of cryptocurrency, will continue.  They also point to further coordination and cooperation between authorities in the U.S. and other jurisdictions in investigating and prosecuting violations of their respective laws.
Continue Reading Authorities in U.S. Take Steps to Strengthen Enforcement of U.S. Measures Against Russia

On October 15, 2021, the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (“OFAC”) issued “Sanctions Compliance Guidance for the Virtual Currency Industry” (the “Guidance”).  The Guidance follows recent guidance and advisory letters directed to the virtual currency industry relating to the risk of facilitating ransomware payments[1] and is OFAC’s most comprehensive virtual currency-specific advisory to date.  In particular, the Guidance directly addresses some simpler interpretive questions, discusses sanctions compliance programs and “best practices,” and provides hints about OFAC’s enforcement priorities going forward.
Continue Reading OFAC Issues Sanctions Guidance to Virtual Currency Industry

As part of the National Defense Authorization Act for 2021 (the “NDAA”), Congress has passed the most significant U.S. anti-money laundering (“AML”) legislation since the USA PATRIOT Act of 2001, the “Anti-Money Laundering Act of 2020” (“AMLA 2020”).

Although President Trump has threatened to veto the NDAA, the majorities supporting the legislation would be sufficient

The Office of Foreign Assets Control of the U.S. Treasury Department recently issued a series of instructive press releases regarding enforcement actions taken against several companies.  The decision to publicize these enforcement actions could signal a more activist and expansionist approach to sanctions enforcement matters and may evidence a broadening of OFAC’s enforcement priorities as the long run of enforcement against financial institutions begins to wind down.  The actions demonstrate a focus on acquisition due diligence and conduct by overseas entities, and in particular on aggressive action against U.S. companies who fail to terminate sanctioned business by their newly acquired overseas subsidiaries; indeed, in a number of these cases OFAC took enforcement action despite the fact that the U.S. acquiror explicitly directed the termination of the sanctioned business, was deceived by officials of the acquired entity, and voluntarily self-reported the violation after discovering it.  OFAC has also begun to spell out, in enforcement actions, the elements of sanctions compliance programs it imposes on violators (and, presumably, would consider a benchmark for other companies).
Continue Reading OFAC Takes Aggressive Enforcement Action in Connection With M&A Transactions and Spells Out Compliance Expectations