UCB AG pleaded guilty during 2002-2012 to moving at least $393 million on behalf of companies sanctioned on behalf of companies sanctioned by the U.S. financial system.  DOJ stated that most of these funds were related to the Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines (“IRISL”), an entity that is on the OFAC list of nationals and blocked persons (the “SDN List”) and which, as such, prohibits access to the U.S. financial system.  According to DOJ, UCB AG conducted these transactions under a system formalized by UCB AG in its own policies in order to conceal the participation of sanctioned companies in certain transactions before US regulators and other banks.  The DOJ also stated that UCB AG had used information and corporate accounts that would not trigger sanction warnings to handle a large number of transactions. DOJ explained that, although these companies had nothing to do with sanctioned companies, many of them (and their accounts with UCB AG) were ultimately controlled by sanctioned companies. The appeal agreement between UCB AG and DOJ involved a cancellation of approximately $316.5 million and the payment of a fine of approximately $468.4 million. Finally, the OFAC regime includes the 23 OFAC compliance obligations (which are in Appendix A of this Memorandum) that have been included in more than half a dozen transaction agreements since December 2018.
OFAC stated that these obligations should be considered as guidelines for compliance with sanctions for all businesses and should be the “characteristics of an effective compliance program.” Financial institutions and non-financial institutions in the United States and abroad should carefully consider these 23 compliance obligations when evaluating and updating their compliance programs. Under transaction agreements, each bank must implement and maintain compliance obligations to minimize the risk of infringement. Full commitments are defined in the public transaction agreements concluded by the banks and involve management`s commitment to promote a “culture of respect” in each organization; the requirement for each bank to conduct internal controls that adequately meet the results of its OFAC risk assessment and profile; and the obligation to provide appropriate training to support each bank`s compliance efforts. UniCredit Bank (UCB AG) and UniCredit Bank Austria (BA), both members of uniCredit Group, have agreed to lose US$20 million and enter into a non-prosecution agreement (NPA) to investigate their violations of the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA). UniCredit SpA, the parent company of UCB AG and BA, has agreed to ensure compliance with the obligations of UCB AG and BA.