The Increasing Importance of Sanctions Compliance and How To Stay One Step Ahead on Your OFAC Examinations

February 15, 2017
By: Anna Sayre, Legal Content Writer,

Today, staying compliant with the continually changing breadth of sanctions regulations and laws is no easy task. Sanctions, regulated, among other agencies, by the U.S. Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), continue to pose an increasing risk in terms of number and complexity.Though it is now quite common for a financial institution to have a Bank Secrecy Act/Anti-Money Laundering (BSA/AML) program, compliance professionals are recognizing the growing need for an OFAC risk assessment and compliance program as well. In a recent poll conducted by Sanctions Alert, when attendees were asked if the OFAC portion of the BSA/AML examination conducted by federal bank regulators was more important, less important or the same as compared to 5 years ago, a whopping 75% said that the OFAC portion of the assessment had become more important. (more…)

Faulty sanctions screening software can lead to fine, underscoring need to have appropriate tools in place

December 5, 2016
By Santosh Talada*

The increased complexity of sanctions coupled with an ever-increasing number of blacklisted entities has made it hard for financial institutions and corporations to keep track of and monitor clients and partners. Even when using automated watch list filtering tools to catch transactions and business dealings with sanctioned entities, costly mistakes can be made as enforcement actions have shown. (more…)

‘Panama Papers’ leak highlights the need for firms to review compliance structures and client relations

By: Anna Sayre, reporter 
Date: June 8, 2016

On April 3, 2016, an unprecedented 11.5m files were leaked from the database of one of the world’s biggest offshore law firms based in Panama: Mossack Fonseca. These documents were quickly named the Panama Papers and expose a myriad of secretive offshore structures used by individuals and companies worldwide. Reporters at the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), the news team to which the papers were leaked, found that some of Mossack Fonseca’s shell corporations were used for purposes such as apparent fraud and tax evasion, as well as conducting implicating numerous international economic sanctions regimes. (more…)

Multiple agencies dealing with lifted Vietnam arms embargo underscores complex compliance

By: Anna Sayre, reporter 
Date: June 2, 2016

Trade between the US and Vietnam has grown exponentially within the last two decades. US exports to Vietnam increased by 23 percent in 2015 alone, and Vietnam is now the biggest Southeast Asian exporter of goods to the US. Effective May 23, 2016, the US government lifted its historical 50-year arms embargo against Vietnam, further opening the door to increased trade between the two countries. With relations continuing to improve, the importance of becoming more familiar with the nuances of relevant US sanctions regulations and how they relate to trade dealings with Vietnam has been underscored. (more…)