OFAC Sanctions Cryptocurrency Exchange to Combat Ransomware Payments, Releases New Ransomware Guidance

On September 21, 2021, the Office of Foreign Assets Control (“OFAC”) of the Treasury Department issued an Updated Advisory on Potential Sanctions Risks for Facilitating Ransomware Payments (“Updated Advisory”), which warns of the sanctions risks of making or facilitating ransomware payments and provides expanded guidance on steps that companies may take to mitigate ransomware risk. Continue reading

New EU AML package – an in-depth look at the role of the Anti-Money Laundering Authority

In the next in our series of detailed briefings on proposed changes to the EU and UK anti-money laundering and countering the financing of terrorism (“AML/CFT“) regimes, this briefing looks at the proposed creation of an EU-wide Anti-Money Laundering Authority (“AMLA” or the “Authority“), as set out in the EU’s recent AML reform package. Continue reading

New Commission opinion on EU sanctions and “making available”: the impact of a non-sanctioned company and its subsidiaries of having a Designated Person director

On 8 June 2021, the European Commission published an opinion on Article 2(2) of Council Regulation (EU) No 269/2014 of 17 March 2014 (the “Regulation”). The Regulation imposes an asset freeze on certain Russian individuals and entities in response to the situation in Ukraine. Article 2(2) contains the standard EU asset freeze wording providing that “no funds or economic resources shall be made available, directly or indirectly, to or for the benefit of” the designated persons listed in Annex I to the Regulation. Continue reading

Operational Resilience: respond, enhance, thrive

Operational resilience is the next phase in the evolution of financial services regulatory policy.

Regulators’ expectations are increasing – but it’s an evolution rather than a revolution; firms – more specifically firms’ senior managers – must “join the dots” across a range of practical risk management and governance activities.

To help keep you up to date on the upcoming regulatory expectations, we are pleased to announce the launch of our new #OperationalResilience hub. Continue reading

Brexit and Financial Services: 2021 Update

The UK and EU finalised the Trade and Cooperation Agreement (“TCA”) that governs their future trading and security relationship on 24 December 2020. The TCA offers minimal commitments on financial services and even excludes financial services from some general protections that otherwise apply under the TCA. At the same time, in a non-binding declaration, the UK and EU agreed to enter into a memorandum of understanding by March 2021 on the establishment of a cooperation framework. Continue reading

Payment Systems Regulator focuses on innovation in payments with the New Payments Architecture

Genevieve Marjoribanks, Head of Policy at the Payment Systems Regulator (PSR), delivered an insightful speech to the Westminster Business eForum this week on innovation in payments and the next steps for digital payments in the UK. One of the PSR’s three key objectives is to promote the development of and innovation in payment systems, including the infrastructures that are used for these systems.

The PSR will be issuing a draft policy statement later this year. Businesses which are active in the payments space or rely on Bacs or Faster Payments technology should consider feeding in views on the proposed changes and future regulatory approach.

The New Payments Architecture (NPA) is a key priority for the PSR. The aim is to achieve an ambitious Blueprint plan set out by the Payment Strategy Forum (Forum) of developing a more innovative and competitive interbank payments environment, underpinned by a resilient and sustainable infrastructure. To this end, Faster Payments and Bacs systems will be moved to use central infrastructure that uses the global ISO20022 messaging standard which has or will be adopted for payments in the Single Euro Payments Area (SEPA), USA and Australia. The PSR believes that ISO20022 will bring increased interoperability, competition and richer data capabilities.

Similarly, Pay.UK and the Bank of England (BoE) have been working to define a ‘Common Credit Message’ for domestic payments using the ISO20022 standard which will provide for increased consistency and interoperability across the UK’s wholesale and retail payments systems. By upgrading the UK’s interbank payments services to use the global ISO20022 messaging standard for, and enabling other enhancements contained in the Forum’s Blueprint, such as promoting innovation through the use of Application Programming Interfaces (APIs), the PSR believes the UK’s position as a payments leader will be maintained.

Developing the NPA ecosystem sits with Pay.UK which is consulting existing Bacs and Faster Payments participants, as well as future users. Implementation will require careful consideration, weighing up the potential innovation benefits to users versus costs and risks, particularly as both the industry and wider economy that it serves is facing a period of uncertainty given recent events such as Brexit and the COVID-19 outbreak.

Clive Cunningham
Clive Cunningham
Partner, London
+44 20 7466 2278
Mark Staley
Mark Staley
Senior Associate, London
+44 20 7466 7621
Katie McGrory
Katie McGrory
Associate, London
+44 20 7466 2669