September 17, 2019

UK bank penalized for Sudan sanctions violations

The British Arab Commercial Bank plc (BACB) has entered into a settlement with the Office of Foreign Assets Control of the US Department of the Treasury, to resolve 72 apparent violations of the Sudanese Sanctions Regulations, formerly 31 CFR Part 538, committed between September 2010 and August 2014.  According to OFAC, BABC processed 72 bulk funding payments totaling $190,700,000 through a US dollar nostro account with a foreign financial institution in a country that imported Sudanese oil, established for the purpose of facilitating payments involving Sudan; BABC then instructed the institution to process third-party payments involving Sudanese parties, and did not disclose the transactions to US authorities.  

In determining the penalty amount, OFAC viewed as aggravating factors BACB’s apparent reckless disregard for US sanctions regulations, its disregard for warning signs that should have put it on notice that its conduct violated US law, the awareness or involvement of several members of senior management, and the economic benefit conferred upon persons in Sudan.  OFAC considered mitigating factors as well, including BACB’s clean record of no violations for five years, its provision of investigative leads regarding the foreign financial institution that hosted the BACB nostro account, its cooperation with the OFAC investigation, its agreement to toll the statute of limitations, and remedial measures undertaken in response to the apparent violations, such as exiting the Sudanese market in 2014, hiring new senior management, and improving its compliance program.

OFAC agreed to reduce the proposed penalty, $228,840,000 to $4,000,000 in light of BACB’s operating capacity, after consulting with BACB’s local regulator, the UK Prudential Regulation Authority.

OFAC press release | Web notice | Settlement