OFAC Issues Sanctions Compliance Guidance for Virtual Currencies

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In October, the United States Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (“OFAC”) published new guidance for the virtual currency industry focusing on compliance with the financial industry’s obligations related to U.S. economic sanctions.

OFAC administers and enforces economic sanctions against targeted and/or sanctioned foreign countries, geographic regions, entities, and individuals to further U.S. foreign policy and national security goals.

As noted in the new guidance, virtual currencies now playing an increasingly prominent role in the global economy. The growing relevance of virtual currency, both as an investment and as a payment method, brings greater exposure to sanctions risks. Specifically, there is an increased risk that a sanctioned entity or an entity in a jurisdiction subject to sanctions might use virtual currency as an alternative to fiat currency in an effort to avoid U.S. sanctions. As such, the OFAC guidance specifically targets technology companies, virtual currency exchanges, virtual currency administrators, virtual miners, digital currency wallet providers, and users.

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Another Court Rules Virtual Currencies are Commodities Subject to CFTC Oversight

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The U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts is the latest court to rule that virtual currencies are commodities, and subject to Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) jurisdiction.

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NFA Proposes Enhanced Disclosure Requirements for Members Engaging in Virtual Currency Activities

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The virtual currency market continues to grow, and this growth has fueled increased attention from retail investors and financial regulators. Financial institutions active in the virtual currency market have seen a trend towards increased regulatory oversight and the latest development imposes new client disclosure requirements upon certain companies.

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