On January 15, 2021, the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (“FinCEN”) announced that Capital One, National Association (“CONA”) had been fined $390,000,000 for “willful” and “negligent” violations of the Bank Secrecy Act (“BSA”) and its anti-money laundering implementing regulations. CONA is a wholly owned subsidiary of Capital One Financial Corporation (“COFC”).  As part of the agreement, CONA will pay $290,000,000 to the U.S. Department of Treasury (it previously paid $100,000,000 to The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (“OCC”) in 2018 for similar violations).

The fine, which was one of the larger fines in FinCEN’s history, was imposed even though CONA had taken substantial remedial measures including enhancing its anti-money laundering (“AML”) budget, voluntarily commencing an extensive lookback into years of potentially suspicious transactions, and voluntarily exiting the cash checking business, which was the source of its violations.

From 2008 to 2014, CONA owned and operated the Cash Checking Group (“CCG”) which was a check cashing service for small businesses in the New York- and New Jersey-area.  According to FinCEN, during this time, CONA and CCG’s BSA violations were “significant” and “willful.”Continue Reading FinCEN Announces $390,000,000 Civil Penalty Against Capital One for Bank Secrecy Act Violations

On December 23, 2020, the US Department of Commerce, Bureau of Industrial Security (BIS) published a rule (https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2020/12/28/2020-26552/amendment-to-country-groups-for-ukraine-mexico-and-cyprus-under-the-export-administration) which amended its EAR Country Group designations for Ukraine, Mexico, and Cyprus in order to bring them more in line with current national security and foreign policy priorities. As we noted in a February 26, 2020 post, this is part of a “larger effort to re-structure and re-align the Country Groups.” (https://www.steptoe.com/en/news-publications/commerce-expands-us-export-controls-on-russia-and-yemen.html). The rule moves Ukraine from Country Group D (countries of national security concern to the United States) to Country Group B (countries eligible for favorable treatment for certain exports of national security-controlled items) while adding both Mexico and Cyprus to Country Group A:6. The rule will have the effect of making more license exceptions available for each country.
Continue Reading BIS Amends Country Group Designations for Ukraine, Mexico, and Cyprus Under the EAR

In this advisory, members of our Sanctions and Export Control team provide a preliminary assessment of the expected policy approach of President-elect Biden’s administration to major US sanctions programs, including China and Hong Kong, Russia, Iran, Cuba, Venezuela, Syria, North Korea, and Sudan sanctions programs.

While specific steps to be taken will be revealed in