The U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) recently announced settlements with two virtual currency service providers, Bit Pay, Inc. (Bit Pay) and BitGo, Inc. (BitGo), for alleged sanctions violations. Separately, Coinbase Global Inc., (Coinbase) the largest virtual currency exchange in the U.S., has disclosed that its services may have been used in violation of U.S. sanctions, and that the case remains pending under OFAC’s review. The BitGo and Bit Pay settlements involved failures to use Internet Protocol (IP) location data to detect transactions with persons in sanctions jurisdictions (in addition to other alleged failures in the case of BitGo), and build on previous guidance that OFAC has provided to money transmitters (which includes many virtual currency businesses) about its expectation that they will use such services to aid compliance with sanctions. Together, these settlements and investigation suggest a concerted effort by OFAC to remind virtual currency businesses of their OFAC obligations and to encourage broader implementation of appropriate compliance programs.

Click here to read our alert on this OFAC enforcement activity and key takeaways.