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Cryptocurrency and the Unbanked: How the Blockchain Can Benefit the Impoverished

I recently came across a paper prepared by students from Columbia’s School of International and Public Affairs that delves into the benefits that cryptocurrency and the blockchain can provide to the world’s unbanked.  Specifically, the paper discusses how cryptocurrencies can help with “reaching and benefitting the unbanked/underbanked people, who do not make use of traditional financial services, including banks.”  Gemini Trust Company, LLC, one of...

Culture and a Company’s Most Valuable Intangible Asset – its Reputation

Corporate leaders and executives like to mouth the words surrounding corporate culture.  It is part of the code they all use with each other.  Few of them, however, really know what the word means or even dare to understand the importance to their business. Let’s face it – corporate leaders and executives like to talk the talk but they rarely if ever understand what they...

The Absent CEO – Who’s Minding the Store?

Corporate families can carry the traits of a smaller family – what do I mean by this quip?  An absent parent inevitably causes harm to a family. Families depend on connection, support and ultimately intimacy.  Corporations, by analogy, are not much different. An absent CEO can have a serious negative impact on company culture and performance. Some leaders do not like to engage. Other leaders...

Kraft Foods Agrees to Pay $62 Million for Misstatements in Financial Report

Recently, the SEC announced a settlement with Kraft Foods for $62 million and with two Kraft executives for financial reporting misstatements.  Along with the corporate settlement with Kraft, the SEC announced proposed settlements with Kraft’s former COO Eduardo Pelleissone and its former Procurement Officer Klaus Hoffman for their roles in the reporting fraud. During the period of 2015 to 2018, Kraft committed various accounting misconduct,...

Episode 206 — Update on Sanctions Compliance and Enforcement

The Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Asset Control (“OFAC”) continues to bring sanctions enforcement actions.  At the same time, OFAC is reiterating the importance of sanctions compliance program.  Building on its May 2019 Framework for Sanctions Compliance Program, OFAC is sticking to its word — setting forth sanctions compliance program requirements and holding companies accountable for sanctions program violations. In this Episode, Michael Volkov...

First Bank of Romania Settles OFAC Violations for $862,318 (Part IV of IV)

The First Bank of Romania and JC Flowers agreed to pay OFAC $862,318 to settle violations of Iran and Syria Sanctions Programs.  First Bank is owned by its U.S. parent, JC Flowers & Company. In 2018, JC Flowers acquired a majority stake in First Bank, subjecting Frist Bank to OFAC sanctions. In early 2019, First Bank’s regulator, the National Bank of Romania flagged a U.S....

United States and Global Community Adopt Broad Sanctions Targeting Belarus (Part III of IV)

The United States, the United Kingdom, the European Union, Canada and Switzerland have adopted or expanded sanctions against Belarus, and the Alexander Lukashenko regime.  President Biden issued a new executive order that expanded U.S. sanctions authority against Belarus, authorizing the designation of government officials, oligarchs and various companies linked to the Lukashenko regime.  The expanded sanctions authority now encompasses various sectors, including defense, energy, security,...

OFAC Settles with Bank of China for $2.3 Million for Violation of Now-Repealed Sudan Sanctions Program (Part II of IV)

The UK-based Bank of China agreed to pay $2.3 million to settle violations of OFAC’s Sudan Sanctions Program.  OFAC repealed the Sudan sanctions in October 2017 but is continuing to investigate violations of the Sudan Sanctions Program that occurred prior to October 2017. The enforcement action was the result of an internal investigation and voluntary disclosure triggered by a bank action blocking a customer transaction. ...

Trade Compliance Dominates Enforcement Landscape (Part I of IV)

Well, we are still waiting for the “big” FCPA enforcement actions.  Do not get me wrong – they are coming.  My suspicion is that they are being held up and calculated with a splash to announce the results of the White House’s Global Anti-Corruption Memorandum focusing on the anti-corruption effort as a national security priority.  The landscape is ready for a splash and DOJ is...