In Laundering Case, a Lax Banking Law Obscured Money Flow

August 9, 2012

The New York Times on August 8, 2012 released the following:

“By JESSICA SILVER-GREENBERG and EDWARD WYATT

The list of global banks that have been accused in recent years of laundering foreign transactions totaling billions of dollars has been growing — Credit Suisse, Lloyds, Barclays, ING, HSBC — and now Standard Chartered.

The details in each case are different, with the international banks suspected of using their American subsidiaries to process tainted money for clients that included Iran, Cuba, North Korea, sponsors of terrorist groups and drug cartels.

What the cases have in common is that the accused banks took advantage of a law that was not changed until 2008 and that allowed banks to disguise client identities and move their money offshore. The cases, including one filed this week by New York’s banking regulator against Standard Chartered, also cast a harsh light on just how much activity with Iran was permitted in the years leading up to 2008 and whether the practices had violated the spirit, if not the letter, of the law.

Foreign banks until 2008 were allowed to transfer money for Iranian clients through their American subsidiaries to a separate offshore institution. In the so-called U-turn transactions, the banks had to provide scant information about the client to their American units as long as they had thoroughly vetted the transactions for suspicious activity. Suspecting that Iranian banks were financing nuclear weapons and missile programs, the loophole was finally closed in 2008.

The new money-laundering claims made by the New York Department of Financial Services against Standard Chartered are particularly embarrassing for the Treasury Department, because they show how, until 2008, foreign banks could collaborate with their Iranian clients to circumvent United States sanctions, said Jimmy Gurulé, a former Treasury Department official who is a law professor at the University of Notre Dame.

Standard Chartered, as part of a strategy to ignore regulations imposed by a division of the Treasury Department, schemed with its Iranian clients to omit crucial details from money-transfer paperwork, according to a regulatory order filed Monday. An e-mail from a lawyer to bank executives in 2001 said that payment instructions for Iranian clients “should not identify the client or the purpose of the payment,” according to the order.

The strategy of masking client details was driven, in part, by a desire for speed, according to law enforcement officials involved in the money-laundering cases. Transactions with certain risky clients, like the Iranians, were subject to much more rigorous vetting. To avoid the holdup, the officials said, some foreign banks willfully removed the names.

Since January 2009, the Justice Department, Treasury and other government entities have brought charges against five foreign banks — the British banks Lloyds and Barclays; the Dutch banks Credit Suisse and ABN Amro, now the Royal Bank of Scotland; and ING Bank of Amsterdam. The British bank HSBC is also under investigation by United States authorities for suspected money-laundering violations connected to Iran, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, Cuba and North Korea, and the bank has set aside $700 million to cover potential fines.

The settlements with the five banks generally included deferred prosecution agreements along with a substantial forfeiture of assets comparable in size to the basket of illegal transactions the banks engaged in. The five cases, which resulted from bank actions from 1995 through 2007, produced forfeitures of $2.3 billion over the last three and a half years. About half of that money went to Treasury and half to other entities, including the Manhattan district attorney’s office, which joined the Justice Department in most of the settlements.

So far, the Standard Chartered case is playing out entirely differently. To start with, action against the bank on Monday was brought by a single regulator, Benjamin M. Lawsky, a former prosecutor who now leads the New York Department of Financial Services. That is virtually unprecedented, since the vast majority of money-laundering charges come from regulators acting in concert.

The federal agencies are still investigating Standard Chartered and are debating just how expansive the suspected wrongdoing was. Mr. Lawsky claims the bank processed $250 billion in tainted money while cloaking the identities of its Iranian clients by stripping their names from paperwork. Some federal authorities, though, believe that the amount is closer to the $14 million that Standard Chartered acknowledges did not comply with regulations.

It is unclear whether the bank will settle with regulators or continue to fight. Standard Chartered must appear next week before Mr. Lawsky to explain the apparent violations and why it should not have its New York license revoked.

The divergent views on the bank’s culpability stem, in part, from the murkiness of the law governing how foreign institutions processed transactions with Iran.

Until 2008, American economic sanctions had a large exception for Iran because the Middle Eastern nation had such a vast oil business with the United States. The loophole permitted the U-turn transactions, allowing foreign institutions to route money to a bank in the United States, which would then transfer the money immediately to a different foreign institution.

Since Monday, Standard Chartered has fiercely argued that its transactions on behalf of Iranian banks and corporations fell squarely within that loophole. But Mr. Lawsky is largely basing his case on claims that the bank violated the law by covering up the identity of its Iranian clients and thwarting American efforts to detect money laundering.

In the settlements with the five banks since 2009, federal authorities and the Manhattan prosecutor accused the banks of “stripping” identifying information from some of the transactions that would have shown they were subject to sanctions and should not be allowed.

For example, in Lloyds’s $217 million settlement in 2009, senior bank managers warned colleagues in 2002 against “stripping” information from transactions referencing Iran, according to court records. In response, the records say, Lloyds simply began to “instruct Iranian banks on how to ‘clean’ payment instructions in which they were the originating bank to avoid detection” by Treasury Department filters.

The stripping constituted criminal conduct, the Justice Department said, when the transfers from sanctioned countries terminated in the United States — rather than taking a U-turn and heading back offshore. By ending in America, the transactions were subjected to stricter security standards, law enforcement officials said. In a letter sent Wednesday from Adam J. Szubin, director of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control, to Britain’s Treasury office, the department explained its enforcement efforts both before and after the 2008 changes. Now, all cross-border transfers require “the inclusion of complete originator and beneficiary information,” according to the letter, which was obtained by The New York Times.

United States banks were involved in the pre-2008 transactions only as an intermediary, and American banks have generally not been charged with violations similar to those brought against the five foreign banks. Because American banks were prohibited from being the beginning or ending party in transactions involving Iran and other sanctioned countries, they would not have been involved in the conduct that got the foreign banks into trouble.

Since the tighter sanctions went into effect, there have been no charges brought on post-2008 conduct, although Treasury’s letter says that investigations are ongoing.

Gina Talamona, a Justice Department spokeswoman, said that the lack of recent illegal conduct is because the settlements with foreign banks “required the banks to implement rigorous compliance programs and other safeguards” against further violations of sanctions. She said that the department’s enforcement program “has had a significant impact on banking industry practices involving sanctions.””

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Douglas McNabb – McNabb Associates, P.C.’s
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To find additional global criminal news, please read The Global Criminal Defense Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write and/or report extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition Defense, OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal, International Criminal Court Defense, and US Seizure of Non-Resident, Foreign-Owned Assets. Because we have experience dealing with INTERPOL, our firm understands the inter-relationship that INTERPOL’s “Red Notice” brings to this equation.

The author of this blog is Douglas C. McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.

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Treasury Places Sanctions On Wife and Son of Sinaloa Cartel Leader

June 7, 2012

The Wall Street Journal on June 7, 2012 released the following:

“By Samuel Rubenfeld

The U.S. Treasury Department said Thursday it slapped sanctions on two key operatives of the Sinaloa drug cartel.

Kingpin Act sanctions were placed on Maria Alajandrina Salazar Hernandez and Jesus Alfredo Guzman Salazar, the wife and son of drug “Chapo” Guzman, who leads the Sinaloa cartel, Treasury said.

“Today marks the sixth time in the past year that OFAC has targeted and exposed operatives of the Chapo Guzman organization,” said Adam Szubin, director of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control, in a statement.

Guzman and the Sinaloa cartel were identified by the president as foreign narcotics traffickers under the Kingpin Act in 2001 and 2009, the statement said. Guzman and his son were indicted in the U.S. on multiple drug trafficking charges in August 2009.

Salazar provides support to the drug activities of her husband and the cartel more broadly, Treasury said.

“This action builds on Treasury’s aggressive efforts, alongside its law enforcement partners, to target individuals who facilitate Chapo Guzman’s drug trafficking operations and to pursue the eventual dismantlement of his organization, which is culpable in untold violence,” Szubin said.

The action freezes their assets and prohibits anyone from doing business with them. Treasury said OFAC has placed Kingpin Act sanctions on more than 1,100 businesses and individuals linked to 97 drug lords since June 2000.”

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Douglas McNabb – McNabb Associates, P.C.’s
OFAC SDN Removal Videos:

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OFAC SDN Removal Attorneys

————————————————————–

To find additional global criminal news, please read The Global Criminal Defense Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write and/or report extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition Defense, OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal, International Criminal Court Defense, and US Seizure of Non-Resident, Foreign-Owned Assets. Because we have experience dealing with INTERPOL, our firm understands the inter-relationship that INTERPOL’s “Red Notice” brings to this equation.

The author of this blog is Douglas C. McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.

————————————————————–

International criminal defense questions, but want to be anonymous?

Free Skype Tel: +1.202.470.3427, OR

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Weapons of Mass Destruction Proliferators [NPWMD] and [IRGC] Entries Added to OFAC’s SDN List on March 28, 2012

March 28, 2012

Today, OFAC has added [NPWMD] and [IRGC] Entries to the Specially Designated Nationals List (SDN List):

The following [NPWMD] entries have been added to OFAC’s SDN list:

EZATI, Ali (a.k.a. EZZATI, Ali); DOB 5 Jun 1963; Passport Z19579335 (Iran) (individual) [NPWMD]

EZZATI, Ali (a.k.a. EZATI, Ali); DOB 5 Jun 1963; Passport Z19579335 (Iran) (individual) [NPWMD]

MALSHIP SHIPPING AGENCY LTD., 143/1 Tower Road, Sliema, Malta; Commercial Registry Number C43447 (Malta) [NPWMD]

MODALITY LIMITED, 2, Liza, Fl. 5, Triq IlPrekursur, Madliena, Swieqi, Malta; Commercial Registry Number C49549 (Malta) [NPWMD]

RASOOL, Seyed Alaeddin Sadat; DOB 23 Jul 1965 (individual) [NPWMD]

The following [NPWMD][IRGC] entries have been added to OFAC’s SDN list:

DEEP OFFSHORE TECHNOLOGY COMPANY PJS, 1st Floor, Sadra Building, No. 3, Shafagh Street, Shahid Dadman Boulevard, Paknejad Boulevard, 7th Phase, Shahrake-E-Quds, Tehran, Iran [NPWMD] [IRGC]

IRAN MARINE INDUSTRIAL COMPANY SSA (a.k.a. IRAN MARINE INDUSTRIAL COMPANY, SADRA; a.k.a. IRAN SADRA; a.k.a. IRAN SHIP BUILDING CO.; a.k.a. SADRA; a.k.a. SHERKATE SANATI DARYAI IRAN), 3rd Floor Aftab Building, No. 3 Shafagh Street, Dadman Blvd, Phase 7, Shahrak Ghods, P.O. Box 14665-495, Tehran, Iran; Office E-43 Torre E- Piso 4, Centrao Commercial Lido Av., Francisco de Miranda, Caracas, Venezuela; Website http://www.sadra.ir [NPWMD] [IRGC]

IRAN MARINE INDUSTRIAL COMPANY, SADRA (a.k.a. IRAN MARINE INDUSTRIAL COMPANY SSA; a.k.a. IRAN SADRA; a.k.a. IRAN SHIP BUILDING CO.; a.k.a. SADRA; a.k.a. SHERKATE SANATI DARYAI IRAN), 3rd Floor Aftab Building, No. 3 Shafagh Street, Dadman Blvd, Phase 7, Shahrak Ghods, P.O. Box 14665-495, Tehran, Iran; Office E-43 Torre E- Piso 4, Centrao Commercial Lido Av., Francisco de Miranda, Caracas, Venezuela; Website http://www.sadra.ir [NPWMD] [IRGC]

IRAN SADRA (a.k.a. IRAN MARINE INDUSTRIAL COMPANY SSA; a.k.a. IRAN MARINE INDUSTRIAL COMPANY, SADRA; a.k.a. IRAN SHIP BUILDING CO.; a.k.a. SADRA; a.k.a. SHERKATE SANATI DARYAI IRAN), 3rd Floor Aftab Building, No. 3 Shafagh Street, Dadman Blvd, Phase 7, Shahrak Ghods, P.O. Box 14665-495, Tehran, Iran; Office E-43 Torre E- Piso 4, Centrao Commercial Lido Av., Francisco de Miranda, Caracas, Venezuela; Website http://www.sadra.ir [NPWMD] [IRGC]

IRAN SHIP BUILDING CO. (a.k.a. IRAN MARINE INDUSTRIAL COMPANY SSA; a.k.a. IRAN MARINE INDUSTRIAL COMPANY, SADRA; a.k.a. IRAN SADRA; a.k.a. SADRA; a.k.a. SHERKATE SANATI DARYAI IRAN), 3rd Floor Aftab Building, No. 3 Shafagh Street, Dadman Blvd, Phase 7, Shahrak Ghods, P.O. Box 14665-495, Tehran, Iran; Office E-43 Torre E- Piso 4, Centrao Commercial Lido Av., Francisco de Miranda, Caracas, Venezuela; Website http://www.sadra.ir [NPWMD] [IRGC]

SADRA (a.k.a. IRAN MARINE INDUSTRIAL COMPANY SSA; a.k.a. IRAN MARINE INDUSTRIAL COMPANY, SADRA; a.k.a. IRAN SADRA; a.k.a. IRAN SHIP BUILDING CO.; a.k.a. SHERKATE SANATI DARYAI IRAN), 3rd Floor Aftab Building, No. 3 Shafagh Street, Dadman Blvd, Phase 7, Shahrak Ghods, P.O. Box 14665-495, Tehran, Iran; Office E-43 Torre E- Piso 4, Centrao Commercial Lido Av., Francisco de Miranda, Caracas, Venezuela; Website http://www.sadra.ir [NPWMD] [IRGC]

SHERKATE SANATI DARYAI IRAN (a.k.a. IRAN MARINE INDUSTRIAL COMPANY SSA; a.k.a. IRAN MARINE INDUSTRIAL COMPANY, SADRA; a.k.a. IRAN SADRA; a.k.a. IRAN SHIP BUILDING CO.; a.k.a. SADRA), 3rd Floor Aftab Building, No. 3 Shafagh Street, Dadman Blvd, Phase 7, Shahrak Ghods, P.O. Box 14665-495, Tehran, Iran; Office E-43 Torre E- Piso 4, Centrao Commercial Lido Av., Francisco de Miranda, Caracas, Venezuela; Website http://www.sadra.ir [NPWMD] [IRGC]

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Treasury Announces Additional Sanctions Against Iranian Engineering and Shipping Firms

3/28/2012

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of the Treasury announced today additional sanctions against two entities connected to the network of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and two individuals and two entities affiliated with Iran’s national maritime carrier, the Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines (IRISL). Today’s actions further expose IRGC and IRISL continued involvement in illicit activities and deceptive behavior.

Pursuant to Executive Order (E.O.) 13382 – an authority aimed at freezing the assets of proliferators of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and their supporters and thereby isolating them from the U.S. financial and commercial systems – Treasury today designated the following entities and individuals.

  • Iran Maritime Industrial Company SADRA (SADRA), an entity owned by the IRGC’s Khatam al-Anbiya
  • Deep Offshore Technology PJS, a subsidiary of SADRA
  • Malship Shipping Agency Ltd., an IRISL affiliate
  • Modality Limited, an IRISL affiliate
  • Seyed Alaeddin Sadat Rasool, an IRISL official
  • Ali Ezati, an IRISL official

“By designating the individuals and entities today, Treasury is sending a clear signal to the international community that Iran’s attempts to evade international sanctions will not go unnoticed. We will continue to target the Iranian regime and specifically the IRGC as it attempts to continue its nefarious infiltration of the Iranian economy,” said Adam Szubin, Director of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC).

The IRGC continues to be a primary focus of U.S. and international sanctions against Iran because of the central role the IRGC plays in Iran’s missile and nuclear programs, its support for terrorism, and its involvement in serious human rights abuses. Similarly, IRISL has played a key role in Iran’s efforts to advance its missile programs and transport other military cargoes. The IRGC has continued to expand its control over the Iranian economy – in particular in the defense production, construction, and oil and gas industries – subsuming increasing numbers of Iranian businesses and pressing them into service in support of the IRGC’s illicit conduct.

IRGC Designations

SADRA which has offices in Iran and Venezuela is being designated for being owned or controlled by Khatam al-Anbiya. OFAC designated Khatam al-Anbiya in October 2007 under E.O. 13382 as an engineering arm of the IRGC that the IRGC uses to generate income and fund its operations. The U.S. Department of State designated the IRGC in October 2007 under E.O. 13382 Section (1)(a)(ii), for engaging, or attempting to engage, in activities or transactions that have materially contributed to, or pose a risk of materially contributing to, the proliferation of WMD or their means of delivery.

Deep Offshore Technology PJS is being designated today under E.O. 13382 because it is wholly-owned by SADRA.

Treasury has also determined that SADRA and Deep Offshore Technology PJS are “agents or affiliates” of the IRGC for purposes of the Comprehensive Iran Sanctions, Accountability, and Divestment Act of 2010 (CISADA). Accordingly, any foreign financial institution knowingly conducting significant transactions with or on behalf of SADRA or Deep Offshore Technology PJS faces potential loss of its correspondent account access to the United States.

IRISL Designations

Treasury is also designating today two IRISL front companies based in Malta: Modality Limited and Malship Shipping Agency Ltd. Both companies are owned by IRISL executive Mansour Eslami, who was designated in October 2010 for his role as director of an IRISL subsidiary, IRISL (Malta) Ltd., and for his co-management of several IRISL-affiliated holding companies.

Two IRISL employees were also designated today including a senior IRISL legal advisor, Seyed Alaeddin Sadat Rasool, and Ali Ezati, IRISL’s Strategic Planning and Public Affairs Manager.

IRISL was designated by Treasury pursuant to E.O. 13382 in September 2008 for its provision of logistical services to Iran’s Ministry of Defense and Armed Forces Logistics (MODAFL), the arm of the Iranian military that oversees its ballistic missile program.

Identifying Information

1. EZATI, Ali (a.k.a. EZZATI, Ali); DOB 5 Jun 1963; Passport Z19579335 (Iran) (individual) [NPWMD]

2. RASOOL, Seyed Alaeddin Sadat; DOB 23 Jul 1965 (individual) [NPWMD]

3. DEEP OFFSHORE TECHNOLOGY COMPANY PJS, 1st Floor, Sadra Building, No. 3, Shafagh Street, Shahid Dadman Boulevard, Paknejad Boulevard, 7th Phase, Shahrake-E-Quds, Tehran, Iran [IRGC] [NPWMD]

4. IRAN MARINE INDUSTRIAL COMPANY, SADRA (a.k.a. IRAN MARINE INDUSTRIAL COMPANY SSA; a.k.a. IRAN SADRA; a.k.a. IRAN SHIP BUILDING CO.; a.k.a. SADRA; a.k.a. SHERKATE SANATI DARYAI IRAN), 3rd Floor Aftab Building, No. 3 Shafagh Street, Dadman Blvd, Phase 7, Shahrak Ghods, P.O. Box 14665-495, Tehran, Iran; Office E-43 Torre E- Piso 4, Centrao Commercial Lido Av., Francisco de Miranda, Caracas, Venezuela; Website http://www.sadra.ir [IRGC] [NPWMD]

5. MALSHIP SHIPPING AGENCY LTD., 143/1 Tower Road, Sliema, Malta; Commercial Registry Number C43447 (Malta) [NPWMD]

6. MODALITY LIMITED, 2, Liza, Fl. 5, Triq Il-Prekursur, Madliena, Swieqi, Malta; Commercial Registry Number C49549 (Malta) [NPWMD]”

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Douglas McNabb – McNabb Associates, P.C.’s
OFAC SDN Removal Videos:

OFAC Litigation – SDN List Removal

OFAC SDN List Removal

OFAC SDN Removal Attorneys

————————————————————–

To find additional global criminal news, please read The Global Criminal Defense Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the firm practice and write and/or report extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition and OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal.

The author of this blog is Douglas C. McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.


Top Sanctions Official Says Pace To Continue

March 19, 2012

The Wall Street Journal on March 19, 2012 released the following:

“By Samuel Rubenfeld

The pace of sanctions announcements will continue, a top Obama administration official said.

Adam Szubin, director of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control, said Monday at a conference of anti-money laundering industry officials that Iran and Syria will be the focus as the year goes on, with emphasis on the international dimensions on key measures.

He said OFAC is also looking at legislation emerging from Congress on Iran and Syria, and how the office would implement it.

Szubin’s remarks opened the 17th Annual International Anti-Money Laundering Conference in Hollywood, Fla.

He said the practice by financial institutions of “stripping data and routing transactions on behalf of sanctioned parties” has mostly abated, saying that is a result of a slew of enforcement actions and because the industry decided doing it isn’t consistent with best practices.

“This is not to say there won’t be any more cases announced because we take this conduct very seriously and where we have cases we will pursue them, but the issue is mostly closed,” Szubin said.

Reviewing the past 16 months of sanctions, Szubin said a month hasn’t gone by when OFAC hasn’t make a major announcement such as expanding regulations, or implementing and dismantling an entire sanctions program, as the office did on Libya.

He said the Libya program, which found $30 billion in a matter of hours, was among the most gratifying things he’s ever done.”

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Douglas McNabb – McNabb Associates, P.C.’s
OFAC SDN Removal Videos:

OFAC Litigation – SDN List Removal

OFAC SDN List Removal

OFAC SDN Removal Attorneys

————————————————————–

To find additional global criminal news, please read The Global Criminal Defense Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write and/or report extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition and OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal.

The author of this blog is Douglas McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.