Federal Bank Regulatory Agencies and FinCEN Improve Transparency of Risk-Focused BSA/AML Supervision

Contact
Steve Hudak 703-905-3770
Immediate Release

WASHINGTON – As a result of a working group established by the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Terrorism and Financial Intelligence and the Federal depository institutions regulators, the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) and its regulatory partners today issued a joint statement as part of continuing efforts to improve transparency into their risk-focused approach to Bank Secrecy Act (BSA)/anti-money laundering (AML) supervision. The risk-focused approach enables federal agencies to better tailor examination plans and procedures based on the unique risk profile of each bank. 

“The risk-based approach to supervision enables banks to devote their compliance resources towards the areas of greater risk, making it more difficult for illicit actors to abuse our financial system,” said Sigal Mandelker, Treasury Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence. “The statement highlights the continued work by Treasury and its regulatory partners to enhance the effectiveness and efficiency of our anti-money laundering regime.”

The statement outlines common practices for assessing a bank’s money laundering/terrorist financing risk profile, assisting examiners in scoping and planning the examination and initially evaluating the adequacy of the BSA/AML compliance program. Using this approach, the agencies generally are able to allocate more resources to higher-risk areas and fewer resources to lower-risk areas when conducting BSA/AML examinations. The statement does not establish new requirements, and also notes that having a risk-based compliance program enables a bank to allocate compliance resources commensurate with its risk. 

“We recognize that not all financial institutions share the same risk profile, but we are working to ensure that regulators are following common processes for assessing compliance. Proper management of money laundering and terrorist financing risk helps to safeguard our financial system, promotes national security, and protects our people from harm,” said FinCEN Director Kenneth A. Blanco. “This joint statement emphasizes our risk-based approach to supervision, and intends to help provide greater clarity to banks and the public on the expectations of Federal bank regulatory agencies.”

This statement was developed by a working group aimed at improving the effectiveness and efficiency of the BSA/AML regime. Members include the Federal Reserve Board, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, the National Credit Union Administration, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, and FinCEN.

Today’s joint statement is the third statement resulting from the working group. 



Minus the footnotes:

Joint Statement on Risk-Focused Bank Secrecy Act/Anti-Money Laundering Supervision

Introduction

July 22, 2019

The Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, the National Credit Union Administration, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (collectively, the federal banking agencies), and the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) are issuing this joint statement to emphasize their risk-focused approach to examinations of banks’ Bank Secrecy Act1/anti-money laundering (BSA/AML) compliance programs. This statement is being issued as part of a broader effort to reinforce and enhance the effectiveness and efficiency of the BSA/AML regime.2 This statement is intended to improve transparency into the risk- focused approach used for planning and performing BSA/AML examinations and does not establish new requirements. Further, this statement aligns with the federal banking agencies’ long-standing practices for risk-focused safety and soundness examinations.3

Under existing statutory requirements, specifically section 8(s) of the Federal Deposit Insurance Act and section 206 of the Federal Credit Union Act, the federal banking agencies have prescribed regulations requiring each bank4 to establish and maintain procedures reasonably designed to assure and monitor compliance with the requirements of the BSA (collectively, these procedures form the basis of each bank’s “BSA/AML compliance program”).5 In addition, pursuant to these statutes, the federal banking agencies review banks’ BSA/AML compliance programs during each examination cycle.6

BSA/AML Compliance Programs and Risk Profiles

To assure that BSA/AML compliance programs are reasonably designed to meet the requirements of the BSA, banks structure their compliance programs to be risk-based and to identify and report potential money laundering, terrorist financing, and other illicit financial activity. A risk-based compliance program enables a bank to allocate compliance resources commensurate with its risk. A bank’s well- developed risk assessment is a critical part of sound risk management and assists examiners in

understanding the bank’s risk profile. Banks determine the levels and types of risks that they will assume.7 Banks that operate in compliance with applicable law, properly manage customer relationships and effectively mitigate risks by implementing controls commensurate with those risks are neither prohibited nor discouraged from providing banking services.8 As the federal banking agencies have previously stated, banks are encouraged to manage customer relationships and mitigate risks based on customer relationships rather than declining to provide banking services to entire categories of customers.9

Federal banking agency examiners evaluate the adequacy of a bank’s BSA/AML compliance program relative to its risk profile, and that bank’s compliance with applicable laws and regulations. Examiners review risk management practices to evaluate and assess whether a bank has developed and implemented effective processes to identify, measure, monitor, and control risks. The federal banking agencies and FinCEN recognize that banks vary in focus10 and complexity, and that these differences create for each bank a unique risk profile. Accordingly, the scope of BSA/AML examinations varies by bank.

Risk-Focused Examinations

The federal banking agencies conduct risk-focused BSA/AML examinations, and tailor examination plans and procedures based on the risk profile of each bank. Common practices for assessing the bank’s risk profile include:

• leveraging available information, including the bank’s BSA/AML risk assessment, independent testing or audits, analyses and conclusions from previous examinations, and other information available through the off-site monitoring process or a request letter to the bank,

• contacting banks between examinations or prior to finalizing the scope of an examination, and

• considering the bank’s ability to identify, measure, monitor and control risks.

The information gained from assessing the bank’s risk profile assists examiners in scoping and planning the examination and initially evaluating the adequacy of the BSA/AML compliance program. The federal banking agencies generally allocate more resources to higher-risk areas, and fewer resources to lower-risk areas. For example, the pre-examination request list is tailored to the bank’s risk profile, complexity, and planned examination scope. Examiners review a bank’s BSA/AML risk assessment and independent testing to assess the bank’s ability to identify, measure, monitor, and control risks. Risk assessments and independent testing that properly consider and test all risk areas (including products, services, customers, and the geographic locations in which the bank operates and conducts business) are used in determining the examination procedures and transaction testing that should be performed.The risk-focused approach reflected in this statement forms the foundation for the information, instructions, and procedures communicated to examiners through the Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council BSA/AML Examination Manual.11

Conclusion

Risk-focused BSA/AML examinations consider a bank’s unique risk profile. Examiners use risk assessments and independent testing when planning and conducting examinations. Examiners assess the adequacy of a bank’s BSA/AML compliance program during each examination cycle. The extent of examination activities necessary to evaluate a bank’s BSA/AML compliance program generally depends on a bank’s risk profile and the quality of its risk management processes to identify, measure, monitor, and control risks, and to report potential money laundering, terrorist financing, and other illicit financial activity.

Links:

FinCEN Press Release

Joint Statement

Amendments to the Global Terrorism Sanctions Regulations (GTSR); Transnational Criminal Organizations Sanctions Regulations (TCOSR); and Hizballah Financial Sanctions Regulations (HFSR)

The Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) is amending the Global Terrorism Sanctions Regulations (GTSR); Transnational Criminal Organizations Sanctions Regulations (TCOSR); and Hizballah Financial Sanctions Regulations (HFSR), 31 CFR parts 566, 590 and 594.  This final rule implements and references recent legislation and a new Executive Order.

OFAC is amending the GTSR and the TCOSR to implement and reference the Hizballah International Financing Prevention Amendments Act (HIFPAA) of 2018.  OFAC is also amending the GTSR to implement and reference the Sanctioning the Use of Civilians as Defenseless Shields Act of 2018 (Shields Act).  OFAC is further amending the TCOSR to implement Executive Order 13863 of March 15, 2019 (“Taking Additional Steps to Address the National Emergency with respect to Significant Transnational Criminal Organizations”).  Finally, OFAC also is amending the HFSR, to make certain technical and conforming changes and to update certain provisions.  

This regulatory amendment is currently available for public inspection with the Federal Register and will take effect upon publication in the Federal Register on Tuesday, July 23, 2019.

Links:

OFAC Notice

Yesterday, OFAC added the following person:

LI, Youmin, China; DOB 19 Jul 1973; POB Jilin, China; nationality China; Gender Female; Passport G48428458 (China) issued 14 Feb 2011 expires 13 Feb 2021; National ID No. 120103197307196727 (China) (individual) [IRAN-EO13846]. 

and entity:

ZHUHAI ZHENRONG COMPANY LIMITED (a.k.a. ZHU HAI ZHEN RONG CO; a.k.a. ZHU HAI ZHEN RONG COMPANY; a.k.a. ZHU HAI ZHEN RONG COMPANY LIMITED; a.k.a. ZHUHAI ZHEN RONG COMPANY; a.k.a. ZHUHAI ZHENRONG CO), No. 121 Datunli Chaoyang District, Beijing 100108, China; No. 20 Gongbei Oiaoguang Road, Zhuhai, Guangdong 519020, China [IRAN-EO13846].

to their Iran sanctions program.

And the State Department explains why:

Today, the United States is taking further action as part of our maximum economic pressure campaign against the Iranian regime by imposing sanctions on the Chinese firm Zhuhai Zhenrong Company Limited and its chief executive for knowingly purchasing or acquiring oil from Iran, contrary to U.S. sanctions. We said we would fully enforce our sanctions, and we are backing this up with real action. The announcement today will help deny the regime critical income to fund terror around the world, engage in foreign conflicts, and advance its ballistic missile development. The Iranian regime must cease these destabilizing activities.

Zhuhai Zhenrong Company Limited knowingly engaged in a significant transaction for the purchase or acquisition of crude oil from Iran. The transaction in question took place after the expiration of China’s Significant Reduction Exception (SRE) on May 2, 2019, and was not covered by that SRE. Among other things, the imposition of these sanctions blocks all property and interests in property of Zhuhai Zhenrong Company Limited that are in the United States or within the possession or control of a U.S. person, and provides that such property and interests in property may not be transferred, paid, exported, withdrawn, or otherwise dealt in. Additionally, the United States is imposing several restrictions as well as a ban on entry into the United States on Youmin Li, a corporate officer and principal executive officer of Zhuhai Zhenrong Company Limited. To implement my action today, the Department of the Treasury is adding Zhuhai Zhenrong Company Limited and Youmin Li to its List of Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons.

Any entity considering evading our sanctions should take notice of this action today. It underscores our commitment to enforcement and to holding the Iranian regime accountable. The United States will continue to deny funding to this regime, which uses its wealth and tremendous resources to enrich itself, deprive the Iranian people of opportunity, and fuel its destructive foreign policy. All entities must do their diligence and stay well clear of sanctioned Iranian entities and sectors. No company or nation should be willing to expose itself to the possibility of supporting Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps or the regime’s regional proxies.

Links:

OFAC Notice

State Department Press Release

Today, the Department of State is publicly designating the following individuals and their immediate family members for the named individuals’ responsibility for gross human rights violations, including in extrajudicial killings in northern Rakhine State, Burma, during the ethnic cleansing of Rohingya:

  • Commander-in-Chief Min Aung Hlaing

  • Deputy Commander-in-Chief Soe Win

  • Brigadier General Than Oo

  • Brigadier General Aung Aung

These designations are made under Section 7031(c) of the FY 2019 Department of State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Act. Section 7031(c) provides that, in cases where there is credible information that foreign officials have been involved in significant corruption or a gross violation of human rights, those individuals and their immediate family members are ineligible for entry into the United States.  The law also requires me to publicly or privately designate such officials and their family members.

The Department of State is focused on policies that will change behavior and promote accountability.  We believe this action is one step toward achieving these goals.

With this announcement, the United States is the first government to publicly take action with respect to the most senior leadership of the Burmese military.  We designated these individuals based on credible information of these commanders’ involvement in gross violations of human rights.

We remain concerned that the Burmese government has taken no actions to hold accountable those responsible for human rights violations and abuses, and there are continued reports of the Burmese military committing human rights violations and abuses throughout the country.

One egregious example of the continued and severe lack of accountability for the military and its senior leadership was the recent disclosure that Commander-in-Chief Min Aung Hlaing ordered the release of the soldiers convicted of the extrajudicial killings at Inn Din during the ethnic cleansing of Rohingya.  The Commander-in-Chief released these criminals after only months in prison, while the journalists who told the world about the killings in Inn Din were jailed for more than 500 days.

Link:

State Department Press Release

State Department Background Call

Statement by FinCEN Director Kenneth A. Blanco in Support of Yesterday’s Anti-Terrorism Financing Actions by Argentina and Its Financial Intelligence Unit

Immediate Release

“Yesterday, Argentina’s Unidad de Informaciὀn Financiera de la República Argentina (UIF-AR) took courageous actionto freeze assets belonging to the Hezbollah terrorist organization and list them on a public registry pursuant to a new law just instituted by the Marci government of Argentina to designate, sanction, and publicly list terrorist organizations along with the individuals and entities connected to them. I commend Argentina’s strong and unbreakable resolve to take action against terrorism and suppress terrorist financing.

The people of the United States and the people of Argentina share a tragic pain.  Argentines and Americans know the suffering that comes from the loss of loved ones due to cowardly terrorist acts.  On the twenty-fifth anniversary of the devastating Asociación Mutual Israelita Argentina (AMIA) bombing in Argentina that cost the lives of 85 innocent people and left 500 injured, the UIF-AR has taken bold action to seek justice and ensure that terrorists face dire consequences.  Both of our nations have learned the hard lesson that financial vigilance and effective regulations can save lives and keep our people safe. 

FinCEN is proud of the work we are doing together with our Argentine partners, including our collaboration to assist and support the UIF-AR’s action against the Hezbollah-linked ‘Clan Barakat,’ a criminal organization infamous for its suspected involvement in smuggling, counterfeiting, extortion, drug trafficking, arms trafficking, money laundering, and terrorist financing.  We continue to value our strong partnership and shared commitment to fight terrorism and the financing that supports it.”



Link:

FinCEN Notice

Last Thursday, OFAC added the following persons:

AL-JUBOURI, Ahmad Abdullah (a.k.a. ABED, Ahmed Abdullah; a.k.a. AL-JUBOURI, Ahmed; a.k.a. KHALAF, Ahmed Abdullah Abid; a.k.a. “Abu Mazen”; a.k.a. “Abu Mazin”), Iraq; DOB 01 Jul 1967; POB Baghdad, Iraq; nationality Iraq; Gender Male; Passport D1017310 (Iraq) expires 14 Apr 2025; National ID No. 00318953 (Iraq) (individual) [GLOMAG]. 

AL-KILDANI, Rayan (a.k.a. AL-KALDANI, Rayyan; a.k.a. DODI, Rian Salim Sadeq; a.k.a. KALDANI, Rayan), Palestine Street, DIST 505 ST 60 H 19, Baghdad, Iraq; DOB 03 Sep 1989; POB Baghdad, Iraq; nationality Iraq; Gender Male; National ID No. 00365298 (Iraq) (individual) [GLOMAG].

AL-SULTAN, Nawfal Hammadi (a.k.a. AL-AKOUB, Nawfal; a.k.a. SULTAN, Nawfal Hamadi), Iraq; DOB 23 Feb 1964; nationality Iraq; Gender Male; National ID No. 71719043 (Iraq) (individual) [GLOMAG].

QADO, Waad (a.k.a. EL KADDU, Waad; a.k.a. “Abu Jaffar al-Shabaki”), Iraq; DOB 12 Dec 1971; alt. DOB 01 Jan 1971; POB Mosul, Iraq; nationality Iraq; Gender Male (individual) [GLOMAG].  

to their Global Magnitsky human rights sanctions program.

And the Treasury Department issued the following press release:

PRESS RELEASES

Treasury Sanctions Persons Associated with Serious Human Rights Abuse and Corrupt Actors in Iraq

Washington – Today, the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) designated two militia figures, Rayan al-Kildani and Waad Qado, and two former Iraqi governors, Nawfal Hammadi al-Sultan and Ahmed al-Jubouri, pursuant to Executive Order (E.O.) 13818, which builds upon and implements the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act and targets perpetrators of serious human rights abuse and corruption.

“The United States is taking action against four individuals in Iraq implicated in serious human rights abuse or corruption,” said Sigal Mandelker, Treasury Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence. “We will continue to hold accountable persons associated with serious human rights abuse, including persecution of religious minorities, and corrupt officials who exploit their positions of public trust to line their pockets and hoard power at the expense of their citizens.”

Many of the corruption- and abuse-related actions committed by these sanctioned individuals occurred in areas where persecuted religious communities are struggling to recover from the horrors inflicted on them by ISIS.  Therefore, today’s sanctions demonstrate solidarity with all Iraqis who oppose corruption and human rights abuse undertaken by public officials, and underscore the Administration’s commitment to support the recovery of persecuted religious communities in Iraq.

As a result of today’s actions, all property and interests in property of these individuals, and any entities that are owned, directly or indirectly, 50 percent or more by these individuals, that are in the United States or in the possession or control of U.S. persons must be blocked and reported to OFAC.  OFAC’s regulations generally prohibit any dealings by U.S. persons or within (or transiting) the United States that involve any property or interests in property of blocked persons.

RAYAN AL-KILDANI

Rayan al-Kildani (al-Kildani) was designated for being a foreign person who is responsible for or complicit in, or who has directly or indirectly engaged in, serious human rights abuse.

Al-Kildani is the leader of the 50th Brigade militia.  In May 2018, a video circulated among Iraqi human rights civil society organizations in which al-Kildani cut off the ear of a handcuffed detainee.

The 50th Brigade is reportedly the primary impediment to the return of internally displaced persons to the Ninewa Plain.  The 50th Brigade has systematically looted homes in Batnaya, which is struggling to recover from ISIS’s brutal rule.  The 50th Brigade has reportedly illegally seized and sold agricultural land, and the local population has accused the group of intimidation, extortion, and harassment of women.  

WAAD QADO

Waad Qado (Qado) was designated for being a foreign person who is or has been a leader or official of an entity, including any government entity, that has engaged in, or whose members have engaged in, serious human rights abuse relating to the leader’s or official’s tenure.

Qado is the leader of the 30th Brigade militia.  The 30th Brigade has extracted money from the population around Bartalla, in the Ninewa Plain, through extortion, illegal arrests, and kidnappings.  The 30th Brigade has frequently detained people without warrants, or with fraudulent warrants, and has charged arbitrary customs fees at its checkpoints.  Members of the local population allege that the 30th Brigade has been responsible for egregious offenses including physical intimidation, extortion, robbery, kidnapping, and rape.

NAWFAL HAMMADI AL-SULTAN

Nawfal Hammadi al-Sultan (al-Sultan) is designated for being a foreign person who is a current or former government official, or a person acting for or on behalf of such an official, who is responsible for or complicit in, or who has directly or indirectly engaged in, corruption, including the misappropriation of state assets, the expropriation of private assets for personal gain, corruption related to government contracts or the extraction of natural resources, or bribery.

Al-Sultan is a former governor of Ninewa Province, Iraq.  Following a ferry accident in Ninewa’s capital, Mosul, that killed nearly 100 people, Iraq’s parliament removed al-Sultan from office.  The ferry, loaded to five times its capacity, had been carrying families to an island on the Tigris River when it sank.  Iraqi authorities have issued an arrest warrant for the former governor, who fled shortly after the accident. 

In a letter to Members of Parliament after the ferry accident, Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi accused al-Sultan of negligence and dereliction of duty, and said there was evidence the former governor was misusing funds and abusing his power.  On March 27, 2019, the Ninewa investigations court said the former governor and several other officials were suspected of misusing their powers and wasting public money.

Al-Sultan has faced allegations of widespread corruption since 1994.  He was removed from his first post as mayor because of corruption and a conviction on smuggling charges.  In 2017, the United Nations Development Program suspended reconstruction projects after multiple allegations of al-Sultan siphoning off United Nations funds. 

AHMED AL-JUBOURI

Ahmed al-Jubouri (al-Jubouri) is designated for being a foreign person who is a current or former government official, or a person acting for or on behalf of such an official, who is responsible for or complicit in, or who has directly or indirectly engaged in, corruption, including the misappropriation of state assets, the expropriation of private assets for personal gain, corruption related to government contracts or the extraction of natural resources, or bribery.

Al-Jubouri, also known as Abu Mazin, is a former governor of Salah al-Din, Iraq, and current Member of Parliament who has engaged in corruption.  Al-Jubouri was removed as governor and sentenced to prison in July 2017 upon conviction for misusing authority and federal funds and appropriating land for personal use.  Al-Jubouri has since been released.  Al-Jubouri has been known to protect his personal interests by accommodating Iran-backed proxies that operate outside of state control.

GLOBAL MAGNITSKY

Building upon the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act, on December 20, 2017, the President signed E.O. 13818, “Blocking the Property of Persons Involved in Serious Human Rights Abuse or Corruption,” in which the President found that the prevalence of human rights abuse and corruption that have their source, in whole or in substantial part, outside the United States, has reached such scope and gravity that they threaten the stability of international political and economic systems.  Human rights abuse and corruption undermine the values that form an essential foundation of stable, secure, and functioning societies; have devastating impacts on individuals; weaken democratic institutions; degrade the rule of law; perpetuate violent conflicts; facilitate the activities of dangerous persons; and undermine economic markets.  The United States seeks to impose tangible and significant consequences on those who commit serious human rights abuse or engage in corruption, as well as to protect the financial system of the United States from abuse by these same persons.

To date, OFAC has sanctioned 113 individuals and entities pursuant to E.O. 13818.  These designations are in addition to the numerous human rights- or corruption-related designations Treasury has issued under various other sanctions authorities.  In total, since January 2017, Treasury has taken action against more than 680 individuals and entities engaged in activities related to, or directly involving, human rights abuse and/or corruption.  The Treasury Department has also published advisories to U.S. financial institutions on human rights abuses enabled by corrupt senior foreign political figures and their financial facilitators that can be found here, as well as advisories related to some of the programs listed above, which can be found here.

Links:

OFAC Notice

Treasury Press Release

On Friday, OFAC designated: under its Venezuela sanctions program.

And the Treasury Department:

Treasury Sanctions Officials of Venezuela’s Military Counterintelligence Agency

Washington – Today, the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) designated four officials of the General Directorate of Military Counterintelligence (DGCIM).  The DGCIM, including these officials, has been accused of systemic human rights abuses and repressing dissent and was sanctioned on July 11, 2019 pursuant to Executive Order (E.O.) 13850, as amended.  This action follows the arrest, physical abuse, and death of Venezuelan Navy Captain Rafael Acosta Arévalo.  The four DGCIM officials targeted include: Division General Rafael Ramón Blanco Marrero, Colonel Hannover Esteban Guerrero Mijares, Major Alexander Enrique Granko Arteaga, and Colonel Rafael Antonio Franco Quintero. 

“The United States will continue to hold individuals accountable who are involved in the former Maduro regime’s use of intimidation and repression to target and silence political opponents, innocent civilians, and members of the military,” said Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.  “The United States will use all of its authorities to target those who have helped the illegitimate Maduro regime repress dissent, free speech, and the will of the Venezuelan people.”

The following individuals were designated pursuant to E.O. 13692, as amended, for being current or former officials of the Government of Venezuela:

  • Division General Rafael Ramón Blanco Marrero (Blanco) is the Deputy Director of the DGCIM.  Blanco was promoted to the rank of Division General on July 5, 2019, only six days after the death of Captain Acosta.
  • Colonel Hannover Esteban Guerrero Mijares (Guerrero) is the DGCIM’s Director of Investigations, where he oversees the DGCIM’s headquarters in Boleíta.  Guerrero works under the supervision of DGCIM Director Ivan Rafael Hernandez Dala, whom OFAC designated pursuant to E.O. 13692, as amended, on February 15, 2019.
  • Major Alexander Enrique Granko Arteaga (Granko) is the head of the DGCIM’s Special Affairs Unit. 
  • Colonel Rafael Antonio Franco Quintero (Franco) is the DGCIM’s former Director of Investigations, who previously commanded the DGCIM headquarters in Boleíta.

As a result of today’s action, all property and interests in property of these individuals, and of any entities that are owned, directly or indirectly, 50 percent or more by these individuals, that are in the United States or in the possession or control of U.S. persons are blocked and must be reported to OFAC.  OFAC’s regulations generally prohibit all dealings by U.S. persons or within (or transiting) the United States that involve any property or interests in property of blocked or designated persons.

U.S. sanctions need not be permanent; sanctions are intended to bring about a positive change of behavior.  The United States has made clear that we will consider lifting sanctions for persons designated under E.O. 13692 or E.O. 13850 who take concrete and meaningful actions to restore democratic order, refuse to take part in human rights abuses, speak out against abuses committed by the government, and combat corruption in Venezuela.  The Department of the Treasury demonstrated this to be the case on May 7, 2019, when it removed sanctions it had imposed on Major General Manuel Ricardo Christopher Figuera, the former head of Venezuela’s National Intelligence Service (SEBIN).  We urge all DGCIM officials to take note of this example, and to distance themselves from the illegitimate Maduro regime.

For information about the methods that Venezuelan senior political figures, their associates, and front persons use to move and hide corrupt proceeds, including how they try to exploit the U.S. financial system and real estate market, please refer to Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) advisories FIN-2019-A002, “Updated Advisory on Widespread Public Corruption in Venezuela,” FIN-2017-A006, “Advisory to Financial Institutions and Real Estate Firms and Professionals” and FIN-2018-A003, “Advisory on Human Rights Abuses Enabled by Corrupt Senior Foreign Political Figures and their Financial Facilitators.”

issued a press release.

There was also a press release from State, but it won’t load (too many redirects), but this is the text in the email they sent out:

The United States Sanctions Maduro-aligned Officials of Venezuela’s Military Counterintelligence Agency

On July 19, the United States sanctioned four officials of the Maduro-aligned General Directorate of Military Counterintelligence, known as DGCIM, pursuant to E.O. 13692, as amended, for being current or former Maduro-aligned officials.  They are Division General Rafael Ramon Blanco Marrero, Colonel Hannover Esteban Guerrero Mijare, Major Alexander Enrique Granko Arteaga, and Colonel Rafael Antonio Franco Quintero.

Nicolas Maduro and his associates continue their involvement in human rights abuses and promote those who carry out these abuses, in spite of the findings and recommendations of the UN’s Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) July 5 report.  For example, Blanco was promoted to the rank of Division General just six days after Venezuelan Navy Captain Acosta’s alleged torture and death while in the custody of Maduro’s security forces.

Similar to the OHCHR report, Human Rights Watch and NGO Foro Penal reported in January on the use of asphyxiation, electric shocks, food deprivation, and death threats against soldiers accused of plotting against Maduro.  Additionally, last week there were reports that ten female prisoners in DGCIM custody were taken from their cells and moved to an unknown location.  Their whereabouts remain unknown.

Meanwhile, 107 military officers are listed by Foro Penal as political prisoners of the former Maduro regime.

Venezuelans deserve a government that honors and respects its military and security forces and empowers them to uphold the constitution.

The United States will stand by interim President Juan Guaido and the National Assembly until all the people of Venezuela are free from repression and democracy is restored.

Links:

OFAC Notice

Treasury Press Release