La nuova circolare del Financial Crimes Enforcement Network: come riconoscere le transazioni potenzialmente illecite con l’Iran

Il Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) con comunicazione urgente n. FIN-2018-A006  dell’11 ottobre 2018 ha emesso una lunga e particolareggiata circolare con l’obiettivo di supportare le istituzioni finanziarie statunitensi (in particolare le banche, società di pagamento, istituzioni finanziarie e commercianti di metalli preziosi, pietre e gioielli) nell’individuare le transazioni potenzialmente illecite nei confronti della Repubblica Islamica dell’Iran.
La circolare contiene riferimenti di operazioni reali, esempi concreti, casi analizzati e nominativi cui porre particolare attenzione.

La circolare, pur essendo vincolante per le sole istituzioni statunitensi, è stata trasmessa anche a tutte le banche e istituzioni finanziarie estere come guida per evitare l’esposizione alle sanzioni statunitensi e per presidiare il rischio di riciclaggio e del finanziamento del terrorismo internazionale riveniente dalle transazioni con controparti iraniani.

Il sistema bancario mondiale è chiamato, quindi, ad assumere posizione di totale aderenza ai richiami del FinCEN statunitense onde evitare l’esposizione al regime sanzionatorio statunitense richiamato nella circolare in questione come segue:

U.S. Sanctions

U.S. primary sanctions on Iran are those sanctions administered by OFAC that broadly prohibit U.S. persons and U.S.-owned or -controlled foreign entities from engaging in virtually all transactions or dealings with or involving Iran, the Government of Iran, or Iranian financial institutions, unless the transactions are exempt from regulation or expressly authorized by the U.S. Government.39 39. See Iranian Transactions and Sanctions Regulations, 31 CFR Part 560.

These prohibitions also apply to transactions in or transiting through the United States, as well as other types of activities. Section 560.204 of the Iranian Transactions and Sanctions Regulations (ITSR) prohibits the exportation of goods, services (including financial services), or technology directly or indirectly from the United States, or by a U.S. person, to Iran. Pursuant to this provision, U.S. financial institutions are prohibited from opening or maintaining correspondent accounts for or on behalf of Iranian financial institutions. Absent an exemption or OFAC authorization, foreign persons, including foreign financial institutions, are prohibited from processing transactions to or through the United States in violation of this provision, including transactions through U.S. correspondent accounts for or on behalf of Iranian financial institutions, other Iranian persons, or where the benefit is otherwise received in Iran.

The importation into the United States of any goods or services of Iranian origin or owned or controlled by the Government of Iran is also prohibited unless exempt from regulation or expressly authorized by the U.S. Government. There are also prohibitions on re-exports by non- U.S. persons of goods with 10 percent or more controlled U.S. origin content.

U.S. persons are also subject to broad prohibitions on dealings with, and must block the property and interests in property of, among others, Iran-related persons designated pursuant to authorities targeting specific malign conduct, such as support for terrorism, proliferation of weapons of mass destruction or their means of delivery, and human rights abuses.40 40. See, e.g., E.O. 13224 and the Global Terrorism Sanctions Regulations, 31 CFR Part 594; E.O. 13382 and the Weapons of Mass Destruction Proliferators Sanctions Regulations; and E.O. 13553 and the Iranian Human Rights Abuses Sanctions Regulations, 31 CFR Part 562.

All Iranian financial institutions are blocked under Executive Order 13599 and section 560.211 of the ITSR and, absent an exemption or OFAC authorization, U.S. persons must block the property and interests in property of all Iranian financial institutions.

Pursuant to the Iranian Financial Sanctions Regulations (IFSR) and multiple statutory and executive authorities, foreign financial institutions may be subject to sanctions for knowingly conducting significant transactions for or with certain Iran-related persons, including prohibitions or strict conditions on their ability to open or maintain correspondent or payable-through accounts in the United States. Non-U.S. persons, including foreign financial institutions, may also be subject to blocking sanctions for, e.g., providing material support to designated persons. U.S. and non-U.S. financial institutions should be conscious of their obligations under OFAC sanctions to prevent any use (both direct and indirect) of their U.S. correspondent accounts for transactions involving an Iranian financial institution. OFAC has issued penalties to both U.S. and non-U.S. financial institutions for processing prohibited transactions through the U.S. financial system that involve an indirect, underlying interest of Iranian individuals and entities, including Iranian financial institutions. As a result, the industry should continue to develop controls designed to curtail indirect involvement of Iranian persons in transactions that transit through or otherwise involve the U.S. financial system. In many cases, this requires institutions to employ higher Know-Your- Customer (KYC) and CDD requirements for Iranian entities or clients who do business with Iran.

In addition, U.S. and non-U.S. financial institutions should continue to implement robust and multi-tiered levels of screening and review for transactions originating from or otherwise involving jurisdictions in close proximity to Iran. Financial institutions engaged in cross-border wire activity should be aware of transactions involving jurisdictions with strong geographical and economic ties to Iran. These practices generally result in significant oversight of correspondent accounts that may involve Iranian interests, as well as create a relatively high-degree of vigilance related to payments and funds transfers on behalf of Iran-related individuals and entities.
Additional information on these sanctions, including sanctions that are being re-imposed following the withdrawal of the United States from the JCPOA, can be found at