Anti-money laundering (AML) and Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) sanctions are areas of tremendous complexity and constant change—areas that continuously present unique and difficult challenges to financial institutions. At the same time, numerous high-profile enforcement actions provide concrete evidence that AML and sanctions compliance has been—and, for the foreseeable future, will continue to be—top priorities for regulators and law enforcement. Institutions now face the very real prospect of billion-dollar fines and criminal prosecution for lapses. In the current environment, there can be no doubt that AML and sanctions program compliance are critical to effectively managing risk and must be a focus of the boards of directors and senior management of financial institutions. 

Interdisciplinary AML and Sanctions Team

Sullivan & Cromwell is ideally positioned to assist financial institutions in navigating AML and OFAC sanctions program challenges. To do so effectively, it is often necessary to bring diverse skills to bear: 
  • deep regulatory knowledge to identify a challenge;
  • investigatory skills to identify its source, scope and magnitude;
  • practical experience and creativity to develop sound remedial strategies; 
  • the capacity to adapt and adjust in the face of changing regulatory or law enforcement expectations;
  • the ability to hone in on what is important, filter out the noise, and communicate critical information to stakeholders,  whether they are internal to the institution or regulatory or law enforcement authorities; 
  • insight into past, present, and potential future enforcement trends  to maximize leverage in settlement negotiations; and
  • the capacity to comprehensively assess and develop sound strategies to address the potentially severe collateral consequences of regulatory or law enforcement action. 
The Economic Sanctions and Financial Crime Group includes leading practitioners with demonstrated expertise and extensive experience in each of these areas. Included in the Group are former government officials from the U.S. Attorney's Office, the New York State Banking Department (now the New York Department of Financial Services), and the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, as well as former officials from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York and the New York Stock Exchange (now the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority) Enforcement Division. Together, the Group's unique interdisciplinary team—with lawyers whose practice area specialties range from supervision and regulation to investigations and litigation to mergers and acquisitions to Congressional investigations—is prepared to assist financial institutions with any AML or OFAC sanctions enforcement or compliance challenges they may face.    

Regulatory, Enforcement and Litigation Expertise

S&C's Economic Sanctions and Financial Crime Group practitioners have provided counsel in nearly every high-profile AML and OFAC sanctions-related regulatory enforcement action and law enforcement proceeding involving a financial institution in the last decade, making it a preeminent presence and force in the areas of AML and OFAC sanctions enforcement and compliance. 


The world’s most sophisticated institutions continue to turn to S&C to handle their most significant, franchise-threatening civil and criminal AML- and OFAC-related matters.  In the past year alone, S&C has acted as counsel in connection with the investigation and resolution of many of the largest, most complex criminal and regulatory enforcement investigations that have been conducted in the United States. Selected recent AML and OFAC experience includes the following:
  • The Firm represented ABN AMRO Bank, Barclays, ING Group, Lloyds TSB Bank, Standard Chartered Bank, HSBC Group and BNP Paribas in the resolution of multiagency criminal and regulatory investigations relating to their compliance with economic sanctions and/or anti-money-laundering regulations.
  • Citigroup in resolving regulatory enforcement actions brought by the Federal Reserve and OCC to address BSA/AML compliance program deficiencies. S&C continues to advise Citigroup regarding AML regulatory matters.
  • JPMorgan Chase in resolutions with the DOJ, the OCC, the Federal Reserve and the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) relating to its compliance with the Bank Secrecy Act in connection with its relationship with Bernard L. Madoff Securities.
  • TD Bank in resolutions with the OCC and FinCEN in connection with an investigation of TD Bank’s anti-money laundering controls and compliance with the BSA and a related consensual settlement with the SEC.  The settlements stemmed from an account maintained at a TD predecessor bank by Scott Rothstein, a South Florida attorney who was convicted in 2009 of orchestrating large-scale Ponzi scheme.
  • Numerous other financial institutions in both public and non-public regulatory enforcement actions brought by federal and state banking authorities, as well as in ongoing, nonpublic government investigations into economic sanctions compliance, anti-money laundering issues, and other bank regulatory matters.