Archive for the ‘OFAC’ Category

OFAC Reaches $5 Million Settlement with JPMorgan Chase Bank

2018/10/30

By: Danielle Hatch

The US Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) announced this month that it had reached a $5,263,171 settlement with JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A. for 87 violations of the Cuban Assets Control Regulations, the Iranian Transactions and Sanctions Regulations, and the Weapons of Mass Destruction Proliferators Sanctions Regulations.

The transactions were net settlement payments with a very small portion being provided to the interests of airlines that were on OFAC’s List of Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons (SDN List), blocked pursuant to OFAC sanctions, or located in countries subject to OFAC sanctions. The transactions included airline freight charges which are not exempt from the prohibitions of the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA).

On a separate issue, OFAC issued a Finding of Violation to JPMC for violations of the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Sanctions Regulations and the Syrian Sanctions Regulations. Between 2011 and 2014 JPMC processed 85 transactions worth $46,127.04 held accounts on behalf of six customers who were on the SDN list.

In both situations JPMC voluntarily disclosed the violations and they were considered to be non-egregious violations by OFAC.

Settlement Agreement: https://www.treasury.gov/resource-center/sanctions/OFAC-Enforcement/Pages/20181005.aspx


Epsilon vs. OFAC: Third Party Risks & “Reason to Know”

2018/10/30

By: Danielle Hatch

Before I get to the nitty gritty of this case its important to remember that companies can be held liable for sanctions violations when they export a product to a third-party in another country and know or have reason to know that the third party intends to reexport their product to Iran. Companies must do their due diligence to make sure that that third party who is receiving their products isn’t planning on sending them to Iran. Now that that’s out of the way, let’s get started.

Note: This case was between the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) and Epsilon Electronics but Power Acoustik Electronics who is a subsidiary of Epsilon who engaged in the transactions in question.

Epsilon Electronics, also doing business as Power Acoustik Electronics, Sound Stream, Kole Audio, and precision Audio has agreed to pay $1.5 million to OFAC to settle the enforcement case related to alleged violations of the Iranian Transactions and Sanctions Regulations (ITSR). OFAC’s Penalty Notice alleged that Epilson violated the ITSR when it issued 39 invoices for sales to Asra Internationals LLC from 2008 to 2012 because Epsilon knew or had reason to know that Asra was distributing its products to Iran.

In 2008 OFAC found out that Power Acoustik exported items to an address in Iran. OFAC issued a subpoena and eventually sent the company a cautionary letter in 2012. During a separate investigation, OFAC uncovered wire transfers from Asra International (company located in Dubai) to Power Acoustik totaling more than $1.1 million between 2010 and 2011. OFAC believed that these wires may have been for products that were destined to Iran and they issued another subpoena to Power Acoustik. The company explained that they had 41 sales of audio and video equipment to Asra between 2008 and 2012 which explained the wire transfers. During a further investigation, OFAC did not directly find any proof that any of the equipment was reexported to Iran by Asra but they did find a website for Asra that specified that the company provided car audio and video products to Iran. The Iran affiliate’s address on Asra’s website was the same address as the 2008 address that OFAC initially sent a subpoena to Power Acoustik for, related to the illegal shipment.

OFAC then issued a Penalty Notice to Epsilon for $4 million based on 34 non-egregious violations (those that occurred before the 2012 cautionary letter) and 5 egregious violations (occurred after the cautionary letter). Epsilon challenged OFAC’s Penalty Notice in the US District Court for the District of Columbia and lost. The company than appealed the order to the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia which affirmed the 34 non-egregious violations but reversed the 5 egregious violations to be non-egregious changing the penalty from $4 million to $1.5 million. The Court of Appeals found that an exporter may be found liable if it exports goods from the US to a third country, with reason to know that those goods are specifically intended for reexport to Iran, even if they never make it to Iran. The “reason to know” requirement for OFAC can be established “through a variety of circumstantial evidence” including “course of dealing, general knowledge of the industry or customer preferences, working relationships between parties, or other criteria far too numerous to enumerate.”

Up until 2011, Asra distributed to Iran exclusively, making the evidence on their website evidence for OFAC that Power Acoustik could have reasonably inferred that Asra only distributed its products to Iran. The Court of Appeals found that the final five exports didn’t fit the “reason to know” standard because OFAC did not address several emails between Acoustik’s sales team and an Asra manager between 2011-2012 which explained that their products were going to be sold from Asra’s new retail store in Dubai…causing the 5 violations to be changed.

OFAC saw the following as aggravating factors:

  1. The alleged violations constituted or resulted in a systematic pattern of conduct
  2. Epsilon exported goods valued at $2,823,000 or more
  3. Epsilon had no compliance program at the time of the alleged violations

OFAC considered the following to be mitigating factors:

  1. Epsilon has not received a Penalty Notice or a Finding of Violation in five years preceding the transactions that gave rise to the alleged violations
  2. Epsilon is a small business
  3. Epsilon provided some cooperation to OFAC, including entering into an agreement to toll the statute of limitations for one year

The important take away from this case is that, as most people already know, there is a very far-reaching interpretation of what constitutes “reason to know” when dealing with third parties and Iran (and Cuba).

Enforcement Details: https://www.treasury.gov/resource-center/sanctions/CivPen/Documents/20180913_epsilon.pdf


French Lender Has Been Saving for $1.27 Billion in US Sanctions Penalties

2018/09/27

By: Danielle Hatch

French multinational bank, Société Générale (SocGen) has released a statement that the lender believes it will be reaching a resolution in the coming weeks related to transactions it processed related to persons subject to US sanctions. The bank has been setting aside funds to cover the penalties since 2017 and they believe they have done it. In their statement, SocGen says that they expect the US penalty of 1.2 Billion to be, “almost entirely covered” by the provisions it’s been saving.

In June, SocGen agreed to pay $1.3 billion to authorities in the US and France to end disputes over transactions related to Libya and over the suspected rigging of Libor, an interest rate used in contracts worth trillions of dollars globally. The bank’s CEO at that time, Didier Valet, was released as part of the settlement.

ScoGen has also already paid 963 million euros in 2017 to settle disputes with the Libyan Investment Authority, a sovereign wealth fund.

A little background related to fines related to banks and sanctions penalties: In 2015, Credit Agricole SA (France’s second largest bank), paid $787 million in fines to cover a similar sanctions case. Four years ago, BNP Paribas SA plead guilty to charges related to transactions involving Iran, Cuba and Sudan and they paid $9 billion.

Statement: https://www.societegenerale.com/sites/default/files/regulated_information_090418.pdf


Swedish Telecom Company Pays Penalty for Sanctions Violation

2018/08/30

By: Thad McBride on July 19, 2018

Thad McBride is a member at Bass, Berry & Sims PLC (Washington, DC) and leads the firm’s International Trade Practice Group. He regularly counsels clients on compliance matters related to economic sanctions and embargoes, export controls, CFIUS, US anti-boycott controls, customs, and other import controls. In addition, he guides clients through internal audits and investigations and represents companies facing government investigations and enforcement actions. He is a regular contributor to the firm’s Government Contracts and International Trade blog and can be reached at tmcbride@bassberry.com

POSTED IN INTERNATIONAL TRADESANCTIONS (OFAC)

  • Ericsson Caused Violation by Having U.S. Party Ship Equipment to Sudan
  • U.S. Employee Facilitated Sudan Business
  • OFAC Expects Parties Conducting International Business to Have Robust Compliance Processes

In June 2018, the U.S. Treasury Department, Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) announced that Ericsson, a Swedish telecommunications company, agreedto pay approximately $145,000 for violating U.S. sanctions on Sudan.  Among other things, this is one of the few OFAC enforcement actions explicitly premised on a non-U.S. actor causing a U.S. company to violate U.S. sanctions.

Non-U.S. Companies Can Violate Sanctions If They Cause a Violation

According to OFAC, the violations involved Ericsson, AB (EAB), which is based in Sweden, causing a U.S. seller of a satellite hub to export that hub from the United States to Sudan.  Interestingly, in connection with EAB’s purchase of the satellite hub, an EAB employee communicated about the matter with Ericsson’s compliance department.  In those communications, the EAB employee was informed that the purchase of the satellite would violate Ericsson’s sanctions compliance policy.

Yet the EAB employee proceeded with the acquisition, with support from an Ericsson employee in the United States.  OFAC asserted that the two Ericsson employees agreed to identify “Botswana” as the destination of the satellite hub.  The EAB employee then structured the acquisition so that the satellite hub was shipped through several other countries, including with help from a third party in Lebanon, before eventually arriving in Sudan.

U.S. Employee Facilitated Transaction by Supporting the Sudan Business

It appears that, when the Ericsson U.S. employee was first contacted by his counterparts at EAB, he informed them that he could not be involved in any Sudan business.  But subsequently, he did assist his EAB counterparts by providing technical guidance related to the Sudan project.  (The U.S. employee sent one e-mail related to Sudan in which “East Africa” was listed as the subject of the e-mail.)  The U.S. employee also met in person with an EAB employee to discuss the project.

There is no indication that the U.S. employee had any role in purchasing or shipping the satellite hub to Sudan.  Nonetheless, by providing guidance and advice about the Sudan project, the U.S. employee facilitated that project and thereby violated U.S. sanctions on Sudan.  Like other U.S. sanctions programs, under U.S. sanctions on Sudan, U.S. persons were prohibited from indirectly supporting (or facilitating) a project in Sudan that the U.S. person could not engage in directly.

Conduct Occurred Well Before Recent Lifting of U.S. Sanctions on Sudan

As we have discussed in prior blog posts (see this January 2018 blog post), it typically takes a long time for OFAC to impose penalties for sanctions violations.  The conduct at issue in the Ericsson matter occurred in 2011 and 2012.  Ericsson tolled the statute of limitations during OFAC’s investigation of the matter.

In fact, by the time Ericsson agreed to settle the matter, U.S. sanctions on Sudan had been lifted.  However, the U.S. government does maintain export controls on Sudan under the Export Administration Regulations.  As a result, an export license is needed to export most U.S.-origin items to Sudan, even though economic sanctions have been lifted.

This illustrates one of the practical challenges for U.S. companies considering business in Sudan.  Discussions about that business and even the provision of business services are generally permitted without a license.  Actual exports of products still usually require a license.  So Sudan is not entirely open for business from a U.S. perspective.

Compliance Is Complicated, Appropriate Resources Are Needed

The compliance narrative in this matter is jumbled.  As detailed above, the Ericsson compliance department advised the EAB employee – correctly – about the potential liability associated with Sudan business.  The U.S. employee of Ericsson originally responded to requests related to Sudan by stating his inability to work on a Sudan project.  Yet both the EAB employee and the Ericsson U.S. employee proceeded with the Sudan business.

This seems on its face like a situation in which company employees went rogue.  Notably, the company disclosed the violation to OFAC, which is one reason that OFAC imposed a penalty well below the statutory maximum amount (roughly $360,000).

Yet in imposing any penalty, OFAC indicates that Ericsson could have done better.  In particular, in the press release related to the matter, OFAC states the following:

This enforcement action highlights the importance of empowering compliance personnel to prevent transactions prohibited by U.S. economic and trade sanctions.  Entities should ensure their sanctions compliance teams are adequately staffed, receive sufficient technology and other resources, and are delegated appropriate authority to ensure compliance efforts meet an entity’s risk profile.

The Bass, Berry & Sims international trade team works closely with clients to assess their risks and put in place effective, cost-efficient measures to prevent and detect trade compliance violations.  OFAC clearly expects such measures.  Feel free to contact us anytime if we can assist in developing and implementing them.


OFAC Revokes JCPOA-Related General Licenses, Amends Iranian Transactions and Sanctions Regulations, and Publishes Updated FAQ

2018/07/30

(Source: Treasury/OFAC, 27 Jun 2018.)

Several actions are being taken in furtherance of President Trump’s May 8, 2018 decision to withdraw from the JCPOA and begin re-imposing the U.S. nuclear-related sanctions that were lifted to effectuate the JCPOA sanctions relief, following a wind-down period. These actions include:

  • The Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) has revoked Iran-related General Licenses H and I, which were issued in connection with the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). Archival versions of General Licenses H and Iwill still be available on OFAC’s website to assist persons in determining which activities were not sanctionable or prohibited while those authorizations were in effect and how best to wind down such activity.
  • OFAC also amended the Iranian Transactions and Sanctions Regulations, 31 C.F.R. part 560 (ITSR), in order to narrow the scope of the general licenses authorizing the importation into the United States of, and dealings in, Iranian-origin carpets and foodstuffs, as well as related letters of credit and brokering services, to the wind down of such activities through August 6, 2018 and to issue two new general licenses authorizing the wind down, through August 6, 2018, of transactions previously authorized under General License I, and the wind down, through November 4, 2018, of transactions previously authorized under General License H.  The amendment of the ITSR is now effective and published in the Federal Register.
  • OFAC has also updated Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) 4.3, 4.4, and 4.5from its FAQs Regarding the Re-Imposition of Sanctions Pursuant to the May 8, 2018 NSPM Relating to the JCPOA.

Details: https://www.treasury.gov/resource-center/sanctions/OFAC-Enforcement/Pages/20180627.aspx


Treasury/OFAC Amends and Reissues North Korea Sanctions Regulations

2018/04/04

(Source: Treasury/OFAC)

The Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) is announcing the amendment and reissuance in its entirety of the North Korea Sanctions Regulations, 31 C.F.R. part 510, in order to implement Executive Order (E.O.) 13687, E.O. 13722, and E.O. 13810, and to reference the North Korea Sanctions and Policy Enhancement Act of 2016 and the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act of 2017.  Pursuant to these authorities, all property and interests in property of the Government of North Korea and the Workers’ Party of Korea are blocked, and U.S. persons are generally prohibited from engaging in transactions with them without authorization from OFAC and must block property or interests in property that are in, or come within, the United States or the possession of a U.S. person.  In addition, these authorities provide the Secretary of the Treasury, in consultation with the Secretary of State, additional tools to disrupt North Korea’s ability to fund its weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missile programs.  OFAC is also publishing new and updated North Korea-related FAQs.

The Regulations and the FAQs emphasize that all U.S. persons must comply with OFAC regulations, including all U.S. citizens and permanent resident aliens regardless of where they are located, all individuals and entities within the United States, and all U.S.-incorporated entities and their foreign branches.  Furthermore, all transactions within the United States, including all financial transactions that transit the U.S. financial system, must comply with OFAC regulations.  For additional information, see FAQ 11 and 31 C.F.R. part 510, subpart G.

Violations of the North Korea Sanctions Regulations, issued under the authority of the International Emergency Economic Powers Act, 50 U.S.C. §§ 1701-06 (IEEPA), and other statutes can result in substantial civil monetary penalties, referral for criminal prosecution, or both.  Each violation of the North Korea Sanctions Regulations is subject to a civil monetary penalty of up to the greater of the IEEPA statutory maximum ($289,238 as of March 1, 2018) or twice the value of the underlying transaction.  Criminal penalties of IEEPA can reach $1,000,000 and 20 years imprisonment per violation.  For additional information, see FAQ 12 and 31 C.F.R. part 510, subpart G.

For additional information regarding OFAC’s prohibitions and penalties, see Basic Information on OFAC and Sanctions.

The regulations will be published in the Federal Register, and the changes will take effect, on: March 5, 2018.

Further information about the North Korea sanctions may be found here


Company Pays $1,220,400 for 37 Violations of the Iranian Transactions and Sanctions Regulations

2018/02/08

The U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) announced in December 2017, a $1,220,400 settlement with DENTSPLY SIRONA INC. (DSI), a US company with the successor in interest to DENTSPLY International Inc. (“DII” and, together with DSI, “DENTSPLY”) to settle a potential civil liability for 37 apparent violations of § 560.204 of the Iranian Transactions and Sanctions Regulations, 31 C.F.R. Part 560 (ITSR).

Around November 26, 2009 and July 5, 2012, DII subsidiaries UK International (“UKI”) and DS Healthcare Inc. (d.b.a. Sultan Healthcare), (“Sultan”), exported 37 shipments of dental equipment and supplies from the US, directly or indirectly to Iran, to distributors in third-countries, with knowledge or reason to know that the goods were ultimately destined for Iran.  OFAC determined that DII did not voluntarily disclose the apparent violations and that the apparent violations constitute a non-egregious case.

Full Details: https://www.treasury.gov/resource-center/sanctions/OFAC-Enforcement/Pages/20171206.aspx


US Firms Part Ways with China’s ZTE Monitor

2018/02/08

In early 2017 China’s largest telecommunications company agreed to pay a nearly $900 million penalty to the US after entering a guilty plea for illegally shipping goods to Iran and North Korea. ZTE was charged with 380 violations of the EAR, including (1) Conspiracy (2) Acting with Knowledge of a violation in Connection with Unlicensed Shipments of Telecommunications Items to North Korea via China and (3) Evasion. The company also entered into a settlement with OFAC for violating the Iranian Transactions and Sanctions Regulations (“ITSR”; 31 CFR Part 560). More Information on these charges can be found here.

Part of the settlement with OFAC required the company to hire an initial independent compliance monitor approved by the US government for a three-year term. The monitor is responsible for preparing the initial three annual audit reports to be provided to the US government. In addition, ZTE had to hire an independent compliance auditor, also approved by the US government, for an additional three years to prepare the remaining three annual audit reports.

Guidepost Solutions and Larkin Trade International were hired in June 2017 by the US monitor, James Stanton, a Texas civil and personal injury lawyer in charge of the oversite regime for ZTE. Stanton’s job is to help evaluate ZTE’s US export controls compliance and sanctions laws, and mitigate any future violations. US District Judge Ed Kinkeade, who presided over the ZTE sanctions case, actually rewrote the agreement to put Stanton in charge of monitoring the company before signing off on the plea deal. It has been said that Stanton has a lack of experience in US trade controls and the order naming him is sealed, leaving the reasoning behind the judge’s decision unclear. This situation is a bit of an anomaly because generally, the Department of Justice chooses an independent monitor in corporate criminal cases from candidates proposed by the company, which is how the agreement was originally written before Judge Kinkeade rewrote it. ZTE and the Justice Department agreed to Judge Kinkeade’s choice and the changes to the monitorship agreement, sources said, because the plea had already been negotiated and filed in the judge’s court and a temporary license allowing ZTE to continue to obtain US made goods was about to expire.

In December 2017, rumors broke out that Guidepost Solutions and Larkin Trade International had resigned in August 2017 from the job of actively auditing ZTE. Although the exact reason is unclear, some say it was a result of  Stanton restricting their access to ZTE documents and officials, which ultimately hindered their ability to effectively monitor the company. Stanton’s first report was due to the US government last month and this report, as well as the subsequent 2 reports will decide whether the company is liable for an additional fine of $300 million or being added to the US denial list.

Nearly all parties related to the case, including Guidepost Solutions, Larkin Trade International, Judge Ed Kinkeade, and James Stanton have all declined requests for comments based on this news. Additional details about this story and the ties between Judge Kinkeade and James Stanton can be found at https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-zte-exclusive/u-s-experts-resign-from-monitoring-chinas-zte-corp-sources-idUSKBN1EG03R


US Citizen CEO Sentenced to 57 Months in Prison for Conspiring to Export Specialty Metals to Iran

2017/10/16

By: Ashleigh Foor

On Friday, September 8, 2017, Erdal Kuyumcu, a US citizen and the chief executive officer of Global Metallurgy, LLC, based in Woodside, New York, was sentenced to 57 months in prison for conspiring to export specialty metals to Iran. The sentencing took place at the federal courthouse in Brooklyn, New York and proceedings held before Chief United States District Judge Dora L. Irizarry. In June 14, 2016, Kuyumcu plead guilty to conspiracy to violate the International Emergency Economic Powers Act by exporting specialty metals from the United States to Iran.

According to court documents, Kuyumcu conspired to export from the United States to Iran a metallic powder primarily composed of cobalt and nickel, without having obtained the required license from the US Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC). It was determined after a two-day presentencing evidentiary hearing that the metallic powder has potential military and nuclear uses. In order to prevent nuclear proliferation and terrorism, the US Department of Commerce requires a license to export and exporting without the required license is illegal.

In addition, Kuyumcu and others planned to obtain more than 1,000 pounds of the metallic powder from a US-based supplier, and hid the true destination of the goods by having it shipped first to Turkey and then to Iran. Coded language was used to keep this all secret, for instance, referring to Iran as the “neighbor.”  Once a shipment was sent from Turkey to Iran, a steel company in Iran would send a letter-sized package to Kuyumcu’s Turkey-based co-conspirator.

The Iranian steel company had the same address as an OFAC-designated Iranian entity under the Weapons of Mass Destruction proliferators’ sanctions program that was associated with Iran’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs.


Treasury/OFAC Announces Settlement Agreement With IPSA International Services, Inc.

2017/10/16

(Source: https://www.treasury.gov/resource-center/sanctions/OFAC-Enforcement/Pages/OFAC-Recent-Actions.aspx)

IPSA International Services, Inc. of Phoenix, Arizona agreed to settle its potential civil liability for 72 apparent violations of the Iranian Transactions and Sanctions Regulations, 31 C.F.R. part 560 (ITSR). The U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) announced IPSA’s settlement of $259,200 on August 7, 2017. The apparent violations include, on 44 separate occasions, IPSA’s importation of Iranian-origin services into the United States in apparent violation of § 560.201 of the ITSR, and on 28 separate occasions, IPSA’s engagement in transactions or dealings related to Iranian-origin services by approving and facilitating its foreign subsidiaries’ payments to providers of Iranian-origin services in apparent violation of §§ 560.206 and 560.208 of the ITSR.  OFAC concluded that IPSA did not voluntarily disclose these apparent violations, and that the apparent violations constitute a non-egregious case.

OFAC’s web notice is included below.

ENFORCEMENT INFORMATION FOR AUGUST 10, 2017

Information concerning the civil penalties process can be found in the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) regulations governing each sanctions program; the Reporting, Procedures, and Penalties Regulations, 31 C.F.R. part 501; and the Economic Sanctions Enforcement Guidelines, 31 C.F.R. part 501, app. A. These references, as well as recent final civil penalties and enforcement information, can be found on OFAC’s website.

ENTITIES – 31 CFR 501.805(d)(1)(i)

IPSA International Services, Inc. Settles Potential Civil Liability for Apparent Violations of the Iranian Transactions and Sanctions Regulations: IPSA International Services, Inc. (IPSA), Phoenix, Arizona, has agreed to pay $259,200 to settle its potential civil liability for 72 apparent violations of the Iranian Transactions and Sanctions Regulations, 31 C.F.R. part 560 (ITSR). [FN/1] The apparent violations involve, on 44 separate occasions, IPSA’s importation of Iranian-origin services into the United States in apparent violation of § 560.201 of the ITSR, and on 28 separate occasions, IPSA’s engagement in transactions or dealings related to Iranian-origin services by approving and facilitating its foreign subsidiaries’ payments to providers of Iranian- origin services in apparent violation of §§ 560.206 and 560.208 of the ITSR.

OFAC determined that IPSA did not voluntarily disclose the apparent violations, and that the apparent violations constitute a non-egregious case. The total transaction value of the apparent violations was $290,784. The statutory maximum civil penalty amount in this case was $18,000,000, and the base civil penalty amount was $720,000.

IPSA is a global business investigative and regulatory risk mitigation firm that provides due diligence services for various countries and their citizenship by investment programs. In March 2012, IPSA entered into an engagement letter and fee agreement with a third country with respect to its citizenship by investment program (“Contract No. 1”). In October 2012, IPSA’s subsidiary in Vancouver, Canada (“IPSA Canada”) entered into a similar contract with a government-owned financial institution in a separate third country (“Contract No. 2”). While the majority of the applicants to both of these programs were nationals from countries not subject to OFAC sanctions, some were Iranian nationals. Since most of the information about Iranian applicants could not be checked or verified by sources outside Iran, IPSA Canada and IPSA’s subsidiary in Dubai, United Arab Emirates subsequently hired subcontractors to conduct the necessary due diligence in Iran, and those subcontractors in turn hired third parties to validate information that could only be obtained or verified within Iran. Although it was IPSA’s foreign subsidiaries that managed and performed both Contract No. 1 and Contract No. 2, with regard to Contract No. 1, IPSA appears to have imported Iranian-origin services into the United States because the foreign subsidiaries conducted the due diligence in Iran on behalf of and for the benefit of IPSA. With regard to Contract No. 2, IPSA also appears to have engaged in transactions or dealings related to Iranian-origin services and facilitated the foreign subsidiaries’ engagement in such transactions or dealings because IPSA reviewed, approved, and initiated the foreign subsidiaries’ payments to providers of the Iranian-origin services.

The settlement amount reflects OFAC’s consideration of the following facts and circumstances, pursuant to the General Factors under OFAC’s Economic Sanctions Enforcement Guidelines, 31 C.F.R. part 501, app. A. OFAC considered the following to be aggravating factors: (1) IPSA failed to exercise a minimal degree of caution or care when it imported background investigation services of Iranian origin into the United States and when it reviewed, approved, and initiated its foreign subsidiaries’ payments to providers of Iranian-origin services, and the frequency and duration of the apparent violations constitute a pattern or practice of conduct; (2) at least one of IPSA’s senior management knew or had reason to know that it was importing and/or engaging in transactions or dealings related to services of Iranian origin; (3) the transactions giving rise to the apparent violations resulted in economic benefits to Iran, and the conduct underlying the apparent violations is not eligible for OFAC authorization under existing licensing policy [FN/2]; (4) IPSA is a commercially sophisticated company operating internationally with experience in U.S. sanctions; and (5) IPSA’s OFAC compliance program was ineffective in that it did not recognize or react to the risks presented by engaging in transactions that involved Iranian-origin background investigation services.

OFAC considered the following to be mitigating factors: (1) IPSA has no prior OFAC sanctions history in the five years preceding the earliest date of the transactions giving rise to the apparent violations; (2) IPSA undertook significant remedial measures by taking swift action to cease the prohibited activities, conducting an investigation to discover the causes and extent of the apparent violations, and adopting new internal controls and procedures to prevent reoccurrence of the apparent violations; and (3) IPSA substantially cooperated with OFAC’s investigation by conducting an internal look-back investigation for potential sanctions violations and submitting an investigation report to OFAC without receiving an administrative subpoena, promptly providing detailed additional information and documentation in a well-organized manner in response to OFAC’s multiple requests for information, and entering into a statute of limitations tolling agreement.

For more information regarding OFAC regulations, please go here.