Current Events and Hot Topics in Sanctions

Updated: Jan 5

On November 14, 2019, the ACAMS New York Chapter held at event titled Current Events and Hot Topics in Sanctions, which was sponsored by Refinitiv/World-Check.


The event was a panel discussion which included (from left to right), Jesse Spiro (Global Head of Policy & Regulatory Affairs for Chainalysis), Daniel Tannebaum (Partner, Americas Anti-Financial Crimes Leader and Global Head of Sanctions, Oliver Wyman), Howard Wachtel (Director of Global Sanctions Policy and Strategy, PayPal), and was moderated by ACAMS New York Chapter Co-Chair, Howard Spieler.

One of the key themes discussed was that sanctions are more relevant today than ever before. The United States in particular is becoming increasingly known for leveraging sanctions powers to enforce foreign policy. According to the panelists, the last two administrations similarly yielded this power. At the OFAC symposium earlier the same week, several enforcement actions were highlighted which have been listed below (related documents are linked). These cases provide lessons learned and areas to ensure proper coverage in your compliance programs.


  1. COSCO Shipping (greater focus on shipping industry)

  2. e.l.f. Cosmetics, Inc (supply chain audit/review - North Korea touch point)

  3. Stanley Black & Decker, Inc. (subsidiaries, including those recently purchased, need proper due diligence)

  4. British Arab Commercial Bank plc (overly complex transactions, i.e. bulk wires, present risk)


The panelists also spoke to their first-hand experience of how sanctions rules are created, implemented, and enforced. This included an overview of OFAC’s Framework for Compliance Commitments, which was released in May 2019 and clarifies that the agency considers the compliance program when making determinations of “egregious violations.” There was also discussion over whether the use of sanctions could ever in fact diminish the value of the US dollar. However, it was stated that this would not be likely – changes to the financial industry such as the introduction of virtual currencies have a stronger chance of impacting the US dollar.


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