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OFAC Finding of Violation: BBVA Compass

Usually, only civil monetary penalties and financial settlements are published on OFAC”s Enforcement Action pages. However, from time to time, they publish a Finding of Violation to create a teachable moment for everyone. Thus, this action against BBVA Compass…

Basically, BBVA missed two SDNs designated under the Kingpin Act in their customer database because the accounts were either dormant and inactive and they only screened active accounts.

Here’s why OFAC decided on a Finding of Viollation:


The determination to issue a Finding of Violation to Compass reflects OFAC’s consideration of the following facts and circumstances, pursuant to the General Factors under OFAC’s Economic Sanctions Enforcement Guidelines, 31 C.F.R. part 501, app. A. 

  • A Finding of Violation is appropriate given that Compass is a large and commercially sophisticated financial institution; 
  • Compass had reason to know that it maintained two accounts for and on behalf of individuals on OFAC’s SDN List; 
  • Compass had reason to know and/or actual knowledge of the conduct that led to the apparent violations, particularly after Compass personnel conducted an “internet searchon at least one of the account holders in the course of an internal investigation and filed a report with a U.S. government agency; 
  • Compass caused potential harm to a U.S. economic sanctions program due to a misconfiguration of its sanctions screening filter that precluded dormant or inactive accounts from being screened against changes to the SDN List for more than four years; 
  • Compassactions in failing to block and report the above-referenced SDN accounts denied OFAC information about two SDNs; 
  • OFAC previously issued a cautionary letter to Compass for substantially similar conduct, namely the bank’s maintenance of accounts for SDNs that was caused by issues with the bank’s sanctions screening software; 
  • Compasscompliance program was insufficient to identify and interdict existing account relationships with SDNs; and 
  • Compassresponse to OFAC’s administrative subpoena did not include certain information and documentation regarding the bank’s account relationships with two SDNs. 

OFAC also considered that 

  • no Compass managers or supervisors appear to have been aware of the conduct that led to the apparent violations; 
  • Compass’ conduct did not confer economic benefit to an SDN; 
  • Compass took remedial action in response to the apparent violations and corrected a misconfiguration in its sanctions screening software; and 
  • Compass cooperated with OFAC by signing a statute of limitations tolling agreement, and two extensions to the agreement. 


OFAC Enforcement Information

Categories: Enforcement Actions Narcotics Trafficking OFAC Updates


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