Category: General

ESG Automation: Picking the Right Solution

The ESG bandwagon continues to roll – investors, companies and business media are all touting the importance of ESG for corporate success.  Right behind are a number of ESG vendors, who are providing automated platforms to manage ESG criteria, measurement and reporting.  The new gold rush has begun and continues to gain momentum.  Companies interested in ESG have to define their program, the criteria for...

Compliance Understanding of Business Processes

We often hear the adage – “compliance has to understand a company’s business;” “compliance has to work well with the business side.” While I generally agree in principle with these phrases, there is a more important point here.  A compliance professional has to understand a business, the specific business processes, and its operations.  In other words, a compliance officer has to understand step-by-step a business...

Alliance Steel Settles with OFAC for $435,003 for Violations of the Iran Sanctions Program

Alliance Steel, a US company based in Oklahoma, agreed to pay $435,003 to OFAC to settle violations of the Iran Sanctions Program.  Alliance Steel is a designer and manufacturer of prefabricated steel structures. Alliance Steel voluntarily disclosed to OFAC 61 violations of the Iran Sanctions programs. Over a five-year period, Alliance Steel maintained a professional relationship with an Iran engineering company.  The OFAV violations occurred...

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Whistleblower Protections under the Anti-Money Laundering Act of 2020

Alex Cotoia, Regulatory Manager and Compliance Consultant at the Volkov Law Group, re-joins us for a posting on whistleblower protections. Alex can be reached at acotoia@volkovlaw.com. When Congress overrode former President Donald J. Trump’s veto of the 2021 National Defense Authorization Act (“NDAA”) in January of this year, it simultaneously enacted the Anti-Money Laundering Act of 2020 (“AMLA”) into law. AMLA significantly expands upon the...

Auditors, Lawyers and the Lack of “Independence” — Bias and Financial Incentives

We are surrounded by bias in a variety of contexts –  news, politics, books and Internet information.  Given the overwhelming amount of information, some find comfort in information supplied by sources with a bias.  We have become comfortable with some level of bias.  The key is to understand the bias, the lack of objectivity and then filter the information.   Given the highly-charged political and...

Burma Sanctions and Export Licensing Prohibitions Implemented in Response to Military Coup

Recently, on April 9, 2021, the US Commerce Department’s Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) adopted new restrictions targeting Burma by applying Export Administration Regulations’(EAR’s) military-intelligence end-use and end-user controls.  These controls were first issued in January 2021 and became effective in March 2021.  The original rule adopted in January 2021 imposed new end-use and end-user requirements, and new controls on support activities by US...

Biden Administration Ratchets Up Russia Sanctions

The Biden Administration announced new and significant trade sanctions against Russia.  The action was long expected given the Biden Administration’s criticism of Russia, and was a comprehensive response to Russia’s interference in the 2020 US election, its SolarWinds cyberattack and its ongoing occupation of Crimea and threatening addition of troops along the Ukraine border. President Biden issued a new Executive Order, No. 13848, Targeting the...

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China’s Digital Yuan: What to Know About the First Major Central Bank Digital Currency

Matt Stankiewicz, Partner at The Volkov Law Group, rejoins us for another posting on digital currencies.  Matt can be reached at mstankiewicz@volkovlaw.com. With the rise of digital currencies, it was inevitably going to attract the attention of governments.  Not just in the regulatory sense, but also in terms of utilization.  The blockchain technology underlying these virtual assets provide certain advantages over traditional paper money, some...

Where There is No Will, There’s No Way: The Bottom Line for Chief Compliance Officers

The Road to Hell is Paved with Good Intentions – Samuel Johnson, 1775. You can draft and design the best ethics and compliance program – and then fail.  You can show every compliance professional an “effective” set of ethics and compliance controls, pristine, drafted elegantly, addressing each and every risk with the perfectly calculated impact, and your program may fail.  Why? Paper compliance programs are...

Before Moving on to ESG, Fix Your Speak Up Culture!!

Ethics and compliance has to stand strong when new trends suddenly spring up. Organizations are always ready to embrace the new-fangled shiny object – in this case ESG.  Not to be a nattering nabob of negativism (see Spiro Agnew’s comment in 1966 crafted by William Safire), but organizations have to take a deep breath and renew a review of its ethics and compliance program fundamentals. ...