OFAC Cracking Down on Sanction Violations: Standard Chartered Bank’s Hefty $657 Million Fine

As of recent, news has just confirmed that Standard Chartered Bank has paid $657 million to the U.S. Department of the Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) in order to resolve their sanctions violations.

These sanction violations primarily relate to transactions involving Iran, with other violations involving current or former sanctions on Cuba, Sudan, Burma, Syria, and Zimbabwe. This multimillion dollar fine demonstrates the financial consequences of violating U.S. OFAC regulations, and shows that OFAC will pursue and punish those who violate sanctions.

For mainly violating the Iran sanction with other additional violations from other countries (Syria, Sudan, etc.), Standard Chartered Bank was ordered to pay total of $639 million as what OFAC dubs the “global settlement”.
Standard Charter Bank had been found to have processed 9,355 transaction to or through the United States, totaling $437.5 million. These transactions are punishable because all 9,355 involve persons or countries subject to comprehensive sanctions programs administered by OFAC.

In the transactions involving Iran, these accounts were mainly conducted by Standard Charter's resources in the Dubai branches, where they held numerous general trading companies. OFAC also found a petrochemical company that was operated.

It is also important to note that the violations outlined in the “global settlement” did not come from the Standard Charter Bank voluntarily disclosing the information. In the end, Standard Charter Bank will also have to resolve outstanding issues with other countries, most likely paying millions in fines for the violations.

With a case involving hundreds of millions of dollar worth of sanction relation violations and fines, Standard Charter Bank serves as a powerful reminder to abide by OFAC's regulations. OFAC's clear intent to enforce their proposed sanctions—as demonstrated with Standard Charter—suggests that these lists should not be taken lightly.

If an individual or business believes they may possibly be violating an OFAC sanction—either intentionally or by accident—it is best advised to seek legal experts.

It is advisable to seek legal guidance from our office today as we strive to help guide you with your specific case. 

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