A bipartisan group of 10 senators unveiled legislation Tuesday that would require the U.S. Treasury Department to establish a "high level task force" to focus exclusively on tracking and stopping Russian money laundering operations.
Away from Moscow, EU and U.S. sanctions have done more than simply hobble the ability of Russian banks to obtain credit and correspondent accounts. For some institutions in London, the restrictions have resulted in tight constraints on anti-money laundering compliance efforts.
U.S. and European officials are developing a coordinated response to recent attacks on Ukrainian civilians and could announce additional sanctions against Russia as early as this week.
At its highest levels, Russian corruption over the past 20 years has been disguised by networks of shell companies and facilitated by foreign banks willing to turn a blind eye to state embezzlement, according to Karen Dawisha, a political science professor at Ohio-based Miami University.
This time last December, one might reasonably have expected that 2014 would be a year of modest changes for the anti-money laundering and sanctions compliance sector. Then came JPMorgan Chase, BNP Paribas and a convoy of Russian tanks to quash that notion.
Two new approaches to sanctions targeting Russia are unlikely to be the last innovations to how the United States leverages its financial power, even if such restrictions strain compliance departments.
The U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee Thursday unanimously approved a bill that would clear the way for sanctions against foreign banks that transact on behalf of Russia's defense and energy businesses.
The expansion of Western sanctions targeting Russia will require banks to closely vet additional types of credit and transactions tied to financial, energy and defense firms, according to attorneys.
The European Union Tuesday further restricted Russia's access to the continent's financial markets and energy technology industry and promised targeted sanctions against individuals and entities on Wednesday.
With the blacklisting of three Russian financial institutions Tuesday, the United States has targeted nearly a third of the assets controlled by the federation's banking sector, according to a senior U.S. official.
The U.S. Treasury Department Wednesday imposed its strongest sanctions to date in response to Russia's role in Ukrainian violence, blacklisting 12 companies in the federation's financial, energy and defense sectors.
Threatened U.S. sanctions against large swathes of Russian businesses would likely target defense and financial firms ahead of energy companies if imposed, according to experts.
The U.S. Treasury Department Thursday blacklisted a Moscow-based financial institution and its chairman for their alleged roles in facilitating transactions for the Central Bank of Syria and a state-owned oil company.
U.S. officials have no plans to negotiate Russia's compliance with an anti-tax evasion law that takes effect this summer and could impose stiff monetary penalties on nonparticipating financial institutions.
U.S. sanctions against 17 Russian individuals and companies, including three banks and the head of one of the nation's largest energy companies, will raise more questions than answers for compliance officers.
Although sanctions on Russian nationals and companies might seem fairly innocuous at first blush, compliance departments at European banks are finding the task of identifying designees unusually difficult, say legal experts.
In announcing sanctions against Russian politicians and one bank Thursday, U.S. officials made clear that American financial institutions should prepare for more, and soon.
Diplomatic tension over Ukraine has raised doubts that the United States will attend an upcoming Moscow plenary of the world's largest anti-money laundering task force, say current and former officials.
International banks are bracing for economic sanctions against Russian officials beyond those announced Monday by Western nations, according to compliance officers.
As the Obama administration weighs punitive measures against Russia, part of its calculus will be the degree to which Russian officials can undermine U.S. national interests, including sanctions against Iran.