A Bipartisan group of Senators has penned a letter to Andrea Gacki, Director of the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), expressing serious concerns about the delay in implementing the Anti-Money Laundering (AML) Whistleblower Improvement Act. Senators Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Elizabeth Warren (D-CA), and Raphael Warnock (D-GA) wrote noting the Act, passed passed over three years ago as part of the Corporate Transparency Act and later strengthened in 2022, aimed to incentivize whistleblowers to report sanctions violations and combat money laundering effectively.

A citizen of the United States and the Republic of Taiwan, residing in Taiwan, pleaded guilty January 31 to a federal conspiracy charge, related to the export of defense materials to Iran 20 years ago. The defendant had remained a fugitive until his arrest on April 10, 2023, at Rome-Fiumicino International Airport in Italy and subsequent extradition to the United States.

The Justice Department announced the unsealing of three federal cases, across two U.S. Attorneys’ Offices, as the most recent in a series of efforts to combat the illicit trafficking of Iranian oil that funds Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), and its Qods Force (IRGC-QF), Iran’s primary mechanism for cultivating and providing lethal support to terrorist organizations abroad Seven defendants are charged in the Southern district of New York, along with the seizure of $108 million. Two more defendants were named in a case filed in the District of Columbia, along with a forfeiture complaint for 500,000 barrels of oil in transit.

Four Chinese nationals are charged in an indictment in the District of Columbia with various federal crimes related to a years-long conspiracy to unlawfully export and smuggle U.S.-origin electronic components from the United States to Iran.

A British man was sentenced to 18 months in prison for attempting to export  an Industrial Microwave System (IMS) and counter-drone system from the United States to Iran, without first obtaining the requisite license from the Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC). Saber Fakih was arrested in the United Kingdom pursuant to a U.S. Extradition Request on or about February 10, 2021. On January 25, 2022, he entered a plea of guilty to count two of the indictment in U.S. District Court in the District of Columbia. In addition to the prison term, Saber Fakih was ordered to serve three years of supervised release.

In a federal court in Brooklyn, Gyanendra Asre pleaded guilty to failing to maintain an anti-money laundering program in violation of the Bank Secrecy Act, as part of a scheme to bring lucrative and high-risk international financial business to a small, unsophisticated credit union. When sentenced, Asre faces up to 10 years in prison. In a parallel action, Treasury's Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) assessed a civil money penalty of $100,000 and a five year ban from AML supervisory employment.

Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) imposed a civil penalty of $153,175 against Wabtec Corporation, a global manufacturer and supplier of rail technology headquartered in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, to resolve 43 violations of the antiboycott provisions of the Export Administration Regulations (EAR) (antiboycott regulations) alleged in BIS’s Proposed Charging Letter. Wabtec voluntarily disclosed the conduct to BIS, cooperated with the investigation by BIS’s Office of Antiboycott Compliance (OAC), and took remedial measures after discovering the conduct at issue, which resulted in a significant reduction in the penalty.

Rewards for Justice is offering a reward of up to $15 million for information leading to the disruption of financial mechanisms of the U.S.-designated terrorist organization Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). Hossein Hatefi Ardakani is Iranian businessman who has helped acquire and supply sophisticated technology that has supported IRGC weapons production and sales. U.S.-origin flight guidance components procured by the Ardakani network have been identified in recovered wreckage of Shahed drones in Ukraine and other conflict zones.

The Federal Reserve Board on Friday issued an enforcement action and fined the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China Ltd. and its New York branch approximately $2.4 million for their unauthorized use and disclosure of confidential supervisory information (CSI). New York state regulators fined the bank an additional $30 million.

A Virginia man was sentenced yesterday to 24 months in prison followed by three years of supervised release for criminal conduct in connection with a scheme to unlawfully export heavy equipment from the United States to Iran by routing the shipments though the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

Commerce officials announced the arrrest of a Los Angeles man for his alleged involvement in a years-long scheme to secure and unlawfully export sensitive technology from the United States for the benefit of a Russian business. 

Assistant Secretary for Export Enforcement Matt Axelrod announced enhancements and expansions of the Bureau's Voluntary Self-Disclosure program, including simplified reporting, e-mail submittals and expedited handling of corrective action for unlawfully exported items. In a speech January 16 at NYU School of Law’s Program on Corporate Compliance and Enforcement Mr. Alelrod described the changes, along with an engaging history of the jukebox, details of which can be found in the complete speech.  

SAP SE (SAP), a publicly traded global software company based in Germany, will pay over $220 million to resolve investigations by the U.S. Justice Department and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) into violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA). According to the SEC complaint, from at least December 2014 through December 2018,  SAP employed third-party intermediaries and consultants in various schemes to make improper payments to government officials in order to obtain and retain business in South Africa, Greater Africa (Malawi, Kenya, Tanzania, and Ghana), and Indonesia. Readers may recall SAP’s prior history, which include a non-prosecution agreement from 2021 with the Justice Department’s National Security Division, as well as administrative agreements with the Departments of Commerce and the Treasury relating to Iran-related export law violations, and a resolution in 2016 with the SEC concerning alleged FCPA violations in Panama.

A Virginia lobbyist and a New Jersey political consultant each have entered into Deferred Prosecution Agreements (DPAs) to resolve allegations that they failed to comply with the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) and committed related offenses while representing the government of Qatar. Barry P. Bennett, 60, of Alexandria, Va., owned and operated Avenue Strategies, LLC and Avenue Strategies Global, LLC, a pair of consulting firms in Washington D.C.  Douglas Watts, 73, of Jersey City, N.J., is a former presidential campaign consultant who also founded and ran a lobbying and public relations company. In 2017, Bennett signed a contract for Avenue Strategies to perform lobbying services for the embassy of Qatar. As part of his lobbying strategy on behalf of, and for and in the interest of Qatar, Bennett covertly operated Yemen Crisis Watch, a Limited Liability Company (LLC) founded by Watts at Bennett’s direction. As directed by Bennett and managed by Watts, Yemen Crisis Watch ran a public relations campaign designed to cast Qatar’s rivals, Saudia Arabia and the U.A.E., in a negative light, and thereby to improve Qatar's standing with the U.S. government relative to these rivals.

January 1st,  Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) began accepting beneficial ownership information reports. Reporting companies created or registered to do business in the United States before January 1, 2024 must file by January 1, 2025. Newly created or registered companies: Reporting companies created or registered to do business in the United States in 2024 have 90 calendar days to file after receiving actual or public notice that their company’s creation or registration is effective.

A New Hampshire charity delivering humanitarian aid to Syria was sentenced in federal court for export offenses.   NuDay was sentenced December 28 by U.S. District Court Judge Joseph N. Laplante to five years of probation, the maximum penalty for an organizational defendant.  NuDay was also ordered to pay a $25,000 fine.  On September 8, 2023, NuDay pleaded guilty to three counts of Failure to File Export Information.

The U.S. Department of the Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) announced a $466,200 settlement with Privilege Underwriters Reciprocal Exchange (PURE). PURE agreed to settle its potential civil liability for 39 apparent violations of OFAC's Ukraine-/Russia-Related sanctions. Based in White Plains, New York, PURE primarily offers insurance policies and coverages for luxury homes, automobiles, art collections, jewelry, and watercraft

Operation Car Wash, the wide ranging graft case involving Petrobras officials and the commodity trading community snared another trophy culprit. Stamford, Connecticut based Freepoint Commodities agreed to pay the DOJ $98 million to resolve an investigation into bribery of Brazilian government officials. The firm has also agreed to pay more than $7.6 million to the Commodity Futures Trading Commission in a related matter.

The elder of two Indiana brothers was sentanced to 200 months in federal prison followed by a lifetime of supervised release, after pleading guilty to attempting to provide material support or resources, namely, firearms, to a designated foreign terrorist organization. Moyad Dannon's  brother, Mahde Dannon, was sentenced to 20 years in prison in October 2021, after pleading guilty to the same charges.  At the time of their arrests (2018) the men were aged 21 and 20, respectively.

The U.S. Treasury on December 11 slapped sanctions on a former Afghan official, his son, and related entities, accusing them of misappropriating millions of dollars of funds provided by U.S. government contracts. The sanctions statement cited former Afghan parliament speaker Mir Rahman Rahmani and his son Ajmal Rahmani. "Through their Afghan companies, the Rahmanis perpetrated a complex procurement corruption scheme resulting in the misappropriation of millions of dollars from U.S. Government-funded contracts that supported Afghan security forces," it said, adding that other family members were also designated.

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