No More “Significant Reduction Waivers” – The Trump Administration Further Strengthens Sanctions against Iran

On April 22, 2019, the White House announced that the Trump administration will not issue further “significant reduction waivers” exempting specified countries from the threat of secondary sanctions based on their purchases of Iranian crude oil. The move signals the Trump Administration’s intention to utilize economic sanctions to bring Iran’s level of oil exports to zero. The announcement follows the recent determination to designate the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps as a foreign terrorist group, both forming part of the Administration’s “maximum pressure” campaign with respect to Iran. The campaign aims to push Iran to take action in response to the Trump Administration’s “twelve demands,” which relate both to nuclear issues and to other aspects of Iran’s behaviour, such as its involvement in conflicts in Syria and Yemen and tensions with US allies in the region.

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New podcast on conducting internal investigations in Asia

Robert Hunt, a partner in the firm’s corporate crime and investigations practice, has recorded a podcast for the Corporate Compliance and Ethics Blog on trends in internal investigations in Asia.

Whilst investigations used to be largely corruption-related, Rob is seeing an increasing number of investigations into sales and revenue fraud, money laundering and sanctions. Robert discusses these as well as the rise of data privacy and privilege issues and the role played by language and culture in investigations.

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Parliamentary Reports Back Improvements to the Supervision and Prosecution of Economic Crime

In this article we summarise some of the key points arising from two important reports regarding economic crime in the UK which have been published in recent weeks.

On 8 March 2019, the House of Commons’ Treasury Committee published its “Economic Crime – Anti-money laundering supervision and sanctions implementation” report (the “Treasury Committee Report”), which suggests improvements to be made in order to tackle economic crime and develop anti-money laundering (“AML”) supervision.

On 14 March 2019, the House of Lords’ Select Committee on the Bribery Act 2010 (“UKBA”) published a report titled “The Bribery Act 2010: post-legislative scrutiny” (the “UKBA Report”) which considered whether the Act is achieving its intended purposes.

We outline some of the key conclusions and recommendations of the reports, including in relation to:

  • Proposed Legislative Reform – including potential changes to corporate criminal liability and the Bribery Act Guidance in relation to the “adequate procedures” defence and corporate hospitality;
  • Deferred Prosecution Agreements (“DPAs”) – suggested improvements including in relation to the court’s discretion, discounts, the prosecution of individuals and their application to smaller companies;
  • AML Supervision – the risks of the current approach to AML supervision by multiple bodies and suggested improvements;
  • Financials Sanctions – the effectiveness of sanctions for economic crime, including the possibility of introducing a discretion to block UK listings on the grounds of national security and the influence of e.g. Russian money in the UK;
  • Derisking – recommend strategic action to combat derisking;
  • Suspicious Activity Reports (“SARs”) – consideration of the SARs reform programme and suggested improvements;
  • Information Flows – potential information flows at bank level and the National Economic Crime Centre’s (the “NECC”) role as a co-ordinator of law enforcement, regulators and the private sector; and
  • Resources and Delays – the impact of delays and a lack of resources on combatting economic crime.

Please click here to read our full briefing.

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Corporate Crime Update – Winter 2019

Welcome to the Winter 2019 edition of our corporate crime update – our round up of developments in relation to corruption, money laundering, fraud, sanctions and related matters. Our update now covers a number of jurisdictions.

For the full update on each jurisdiction, please click on the name of the jurisdiction below. Below we provide a brief overview of what is covered in each update.

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OFSI imposes its first monetary penalty — Raphaels Bank sanctions breach

Authors: Daniel Hudson, Partner, London and Daniel Hyde, Associate (Australia), London

On 25 February 2019, the UK Government’s Office of Financial Sanctions Implementation (“OFSI”) published a notification of its first imposition of a monetary penalty under new powers afforded to it under the Policing and Crime Act 2017 (“the Act”). The £5,000 penalty was imposed on Raphaels Bank for dealing, without a licence, with funds belonging to a designated person in breach of EU financial sanctions in relation to Egypt. The penalty amount represents a 50 per cent reduction of the baseline penalty amount initially assessed by OFSI as a result of Raphaels Bank’s voluntary disclosure of the breach and subsequent cooperation.

The notification is brief, seemingly because OFSI is making ongoing enquiries in connection with other aspects of the breach unconnected with Raphaels Bank. However, it is apparent that OFSI determined the penalty amount in accordance with its case assessment process set out in its monetary penalty guidance (“Guidance”), which makes this case a useful, albeit currently limited, illustration of its application of that process.

In this briefing, we discuss the significance of the first monetary penalty imposed by OFSI, particularly:

  • the reduction to the final penalty amount as a result of Raphaels Bank’s disclosure and co-operation;
  • the low-value of the breach;
  • the current brevity of the notification;
  • possible public interest considerations behind the penalty; and
  • the two procedural rights of review available under section 147 of the Act.

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The importance of supply chain due diligence and the risks of modern slavery – OFAC settles North Korean sanctions case with fine

Authors: Kyle Wombolt, Jeremy Birch, Antony Crockett and Emily Purvis.

A recent enforcement action by the US Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) against US company e.l.f Cosmetics Inc (ELF) highlights the importance of supply chain due diligence in conducting cross border business. The action against ELF reflects a global trend of increased regulatory focus on supply chains in relation to a range of business conduct issues, including corruption, modern slavery, and other human rights violations. To mitigate sanction violation risk, companies should verify the country of origin of goods and services in their supply chains.

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HERBERT SMITH FREEHILLS’ 2019 GUIDE TO CORPORATE INVESTIGATIONS IN CHINA

Authors: Kyle Wombolt and Anita Phillips

Kyle Wombolt, global head of corporate crime and investigations, and Anita Phillips, professional support consultant, have updated their guide to corporate investigations in China. This forms part of GIR’s acclaimed text, The Practitioner’s Guide to Global Investigations 2019, third edition. It is regarded as the only text covering the nuts and bolts of multi-jurisdictional corporate investigations.

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OFAC Imposes Blocking Sanctions on PdVSA

Authors: Susannah Cogman, Partner, London; Daniel Hudson, Partner, London; Jonathan Cross, Counsel, New York; Geng Li, Associate, New York; and Christopher Milazzo, Associate, New York.

On January 28, 2019, the US Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (“OFAC”) announced the designation of Venezuelan state-owned oil producer Petroleos de Venezuela, S.A. (PdVSA) as a Specially Designated National (“SDN”), which follows the White House’s earlier announcement recognizing Venezuelan National Assembly President Juan Guaidó as the Interim President of Venezuela. The sanctions are significant because PdVSA has a monopoly in the Venezuelan oil sector and contributes significantly to Venezuela’s foreign trade income. Concurrent with the designation announcement, OFAC also issued a number of general licenses that authorize a range of activities involving PdVSA and its subsidiaries.

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Corporate Crime update – December 2018

Welcome to the December 2018 edition of our corporate crime update – our round up of developments in relation to corruption, money laundering, fraud, sanctions and related matters.

This month, we would like to wish all of our regular readers a very happy, and hopefully corporate crime free, festive season! 

For the full update on each jurisdiction, please click on the name of the jurisdiction below. Continue reading

Corporate Crime autumn update 2018

Welcome to the autumn 2018 edition of our corporate crime update – our round up of developments in relation to corruption, money laundering, fraud, sanctions and related matters. Our update now covers a number of jurisdictions.

For the full update on each jurisdiction, please click on the name of the jurisdiction below where we provide a brief overview of what is covered. Continue reading