Commerzbank AG Settles Potential Liability for Apparent Violations of Multiple Sanctions Programs

March 12, 2015

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  • Sudan


This Settlement Agreement (the "Agreement") is made by and between the U.S. Department of the Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) and Commerzbank AG (Commerzbank).


1. OFAC administers and enforces economic sanctions against targeted foreign countries, regimes, terrorists, intemational narcotics traffickers, and persons engaged in activities related to the proliferation of weapons of mass destraction, among others. OFAC acts under Presidential national emergency authorities, as well as authority granted by specific legislation, to impose controls on transactions and freeze assets under U.S. jurisdiction.

2. Commerzbank is a bank registered and organized under the laws of Germany.


3. Over several years, up to and including January 2010, Commerzbank processed thousands of transactions through U.S. financial institutions that involved countries, entities, or individuals subject to the sanctions programs administered by OFAC. Commerzbank engaged in payment practices that removed, omitted, obscured, or otherwise failed to include references to U.S.-sanctioned persons in Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT) payment messages sent to U.S. financial institutions. As early as 2002, bank employees omitted references to Iranian financial institutions and replaced the originating bank infomiation with Commerzbank's name. Commerzbank also later created a process to route payments involving Iranian counterparties to a payment queue requiring manual processing by bank employees rather than routine, automated processing. Commerzbank utilized similar or other practices to process U.S. Dollar (USD) transactions involving other sanctioned countries including Sudan, Burma, and Cuba, as well as other persons listed on OFAC's List of Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons (the "SDN List").