Security & Fraud

FinCEN: US Banks Should Be Wary Of Nicaragua Assets

The Financial Crimes Enforcement Network said Thursday (October 4) that U.S. financial institutions are at increased risk that proceeds from Nicaragua may enter the U.S. financial system.

In a press release, FinCEN said it expects senior foreign political figures connected to Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega could react to the prospect of unrest, political sanctions, and other factors by moving assets out of their accounts in the country. The assets may be the proceeds of corruption and could be directed into accounts residing in the U.S., FinCen said. FinCen wants financial institutions to file Suspicious Activity Reports which it said is consistent with the existing Bank Secrecy Act obligations.

“The Ortega regime in Nicaragua is oppressive and corrupt, and it has illicitly enriched its membership and associates by stealing and depriving Nicaraguan citizens of resources and money that belongs to them. At the same time, this regime is perpetrating human rights abuses in response to citizen protests,” said FinCEN Director Kenneth A. Blanco in the press release. “Given the oppressive and corrupt conduct of the Ortega regime and resulting unrest in Nicaragua, people and companies associated with or linked to the Ortega regime may try to move corruption-related assets out of Nicaragua. U.S. financial institutions are an important line of defense against corrupt and bloodstained money flowing through our system, and we are advising our partners in the financial sector to be on high alert.”

FinCEN said the advisory underscores the actions the Treasury Department has taken against Nicaraguan officials that are involved in corruption and humans rights abuses. FinCEN said that to date, Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) has designated four senior officials — within the Nicaraguan government, the Sandinista National Liberation Front, and ALBA de Nicaragua (ALBANISA), the company that imports and sells Venezuelan petroleum products — under the Global Magnitsky authority. That enables Treasury to target corrupt officials, human rights abuses and their facilitators around the globe.

“For years, Nicaragua’s President Daniel Ortega and his government have held fraudulent elections, suppressed civil society and independent media, and stolen money from government funds. The violence that Ortega’s regime has perpetrated against the Nicaraguan people is despicable, and the international financial community must be on guard to prevent exploitation by corrupt regime insiders,” Under Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Sigal Mandelker said in the press release. “FinCEN’s advisory is part of this Administration’s ongoing campaign to hold individuals who engage in human rights abuses and corruption in Nicaragua to account.”

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