Sanctions Top-5 for the week ending 19 February 2021

Here are five things that happened this week in the world of economic sanctions that I think you should know about.

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  1. The US Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) announced a USD 507,375 settlement with an Atlanta-based digital currency payment processor for violations of multiple OFAC sanctions programs. According to the OFAC settlement notice, the company did not utilize IP-address information to prevent users located in comprehensively sanctioned territories from using its service. (As previously reported, OFAC settled with a California-based digital assets company in December 2020 for similar reasons.)
  2. The Canadian and UK governments imposed asset freezes on numerous individuals in response to the military coup in Myanmar on 1 February 2021. (The notices are available here and here.) As reported last week, the White House issued Executive Order 14014 creating the first new sanctions program of the Biden era. Meanwhile, the European Union is reportedly planning to adopt its own targeted sanctions.
  3. The UK Office of Financial Sanctions Implementation (OFSI) added 27 individuals to the UK Sanctions List pursuant to the Republic of Belarus (Sanctions) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019. According to the OFSI notice, the individuals are responsible for mistreating protesters and journalists in Belarus, among other things. Meanwhile, the US State Department announced visa bans against 43 individuals who are “responsible for undermining Belarusian democracy,” pursuant to Presidential Proclamation (PP) 8015 of 12 May 2006.
  4. The US State Department announced that the acting US representative to the United Nations submitted a letter to the UN Security Councilreversing the previous administration’s position” that UN sanctions on Iran were somehow reactivated under the “snap back” provision of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).
  5. The US Department of Justice (DOJ) announced an indictment against three North Korean individuals for their involvement in hacking campaigns aimed at stealing more than USD 1 billion in money and cryptocurrency, and other nefarious deeds. A Canadian-American citizen pleaded guilty to laundering proceeds from some of the attacks, the DOJ added.


Double snap back! In September 2020, the State Department claimed that UN sanctions on Iran had been reimposed under UN Security Council Resolution 2231 (2015) because, well, the United States said so. Naturally, the other Security Council members weren’t having any of it. Now the State Department has reversed itself, and we can pretend the whole thing never happened.

Curious about how the UK’s post-Brexit sanctions regime is shaping up? Check out UK Sanctions Policy: A Progress Report by Emil Dall, Senior Research Fellow for RUSI’s Centre for Financial Crime & Security Studies. The report is available here.

Coming up: I’ll be presenting on OFAC compliance for non-US financial institutions in a webinar hosted by Toronto Compliance & AML Events (TCAE). Join TCAE Founder Souzan Esmaili and me on Saturday, 27 February, at 10:00 a.m. Toronto time. Registration details are here.

Did I miss something? Send me a message or comment on LinkedIn.

(The views expressed are my own and do not constitute legal advice. Photo from Vladislav Reshetnyak.)




US attorney in Hong Kong specializing in economic sanctions, financial crimes. Sign up for emails: LinkedIn at:

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Nicholas Turner

Nicholas Turner

US attorney in Hong Kong specializing in economic sanctions, financial crimes. Sign up for emails: LinkedIn at:

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