us-sanctions 19 September 2019

UK-based bank to pay $4m to settle OFAC charges despite ‘no presence under US jurisdiction’

The United States Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (‘OFAC’) has announced a settlement with London-based British Arab Commercial Bank Plc., which, it says, ‘has no offices, business or presence under U.S jurisdiction,’ but which ‘processed 72 apparent violations of the Sudanese Sanctions Regulations (SSR) (previously found at 31 C.F.R. Part 538) totaling $190,700,000.’

OFAC says that the ‘total base penalty amount for the apparent violations’ was $381m, but that ‘in consultation with BACB’s domestic regulator, the United Kingdom’s Prudential Regulation Authority, OFAC determined that the Bank’s operating capacity was such that it would face disproportionate impact if required to pay the proposed penalty…

‘As a result, and in view of BACB’s operating capacity, the fact that it has represented that it ceased the conduct described below, its entering into a settlement agreement, and its maintenance of the compliance commitments articulated in the settlement agreement, BACB will remit $4,000,000 to settle these potential violations and its obligations to pay OFAC the remainder of the proposed penalty amount shall be suspended.’

Susannah L. Aliker, the bank’s CEO, stated: ‘BACB is pleased finally to put these historical matters to rest. We note that OFAC recognized that the Bank did not set out to violate US sanctions and believed the transactions in question would be processed outside the US financial system. OFAC also acknowledges both the Bank’s extensive cooperation with US authorities and the concrete steps that BACB has taken to improve its compliance program.’

Topical issue

At the WorldECR Forum in London (3 and 4 October), Debevoise & Plimpton lawyers Satish Kini and Konstantin Bureiko will present on ‘OFAC, Through The Prism Of Its Enforcement Actions’.

See the full programme at: