Compliance Blog

Jan 26, 2018
Categories: BSA

OFAC Blacklists the "Thieves-in-Law" Crime Syndicate; January 2018 BSA Blast

Thieves-in-Law, another organized criminal network to be on the lookout for.  And, no, this is not a joke..................

Late last month, the U.S. Department of the Treasury's (Treasury) Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) announced it was targeting one of Russia's oldest and most notorious organized criminal gangs, "Vory v Zakone" or "Thieves-in-Law" (Thieves).  The announcement indicated the criminal network was being targeted for "its involvement in serious transnational criminal activities" across the globe. Ever heard of them?  I hadn't.

As a group, the Thieves-in-Law originated in the former Soviet Union's Stalinist prison camps and gulags.  This Wikipedia entry provides some history along with the rules of conduct for its members.  Members are required to have served several jail sentences, not allowed to get married and take an oath to uphold the group's code that includes living only off their criminal profits and supporting other Thieves members.

Now, apparently, its members are the heads of a vast underworld network that has spread throughout the former Soviet Union, Europe and the United States to the great financial centers.  As a criminal organization, it has engaged in money laundering, extortion, bribery, robbery, identity theft and trafficking.

Individual Thieves engaging in criminal activity in the United States have been targeted by U.S. law enforcement before, but Treasury's designation of the whole network as a "Transnational Criminal Organization" is the first action to treat them as a single group. As OFAC Director John E. Smith stated, €"Treasury is designating the Thieves-in-Law as part of a broader strategy to disrupt the financial infrastructure of transnational criminal organizations that pose a threat to the United States and our allies".      

The Treasury action also targeted 10 individuals and 2 entities linked to the Thieves-in-Law organization.  This action generally prohibits U.S. persons from conducting financial or other transactions with these individuals and entities, and freezes any assets they may have under U.S. jurisdiction.


BSA Blast.  It's 2018 and the first quarter January issue of the BSA Blast is now available. (NAFCU login required).  The articles in this issue cover: (1) a Texas community bank's civil money penalty lesson on the importance of "Knowing Your Customer"; and (2) Citibank's banking regulator fines it $70 million for not correcting its BSA/AML compliance issues.  The BSA training quiz included in this issue focuses on Currency Transaction Reports (CTRs).

About the Author

Shari Pogach, NCCO, NCBSO, Regulatory Paralegal, NAFCU

 Shari Pogach, NCCO, NCBSO, Regulatory Paralegal

Shari R. Pogach, NCCONCBSO, has served as Regulatory Paralegal for NAFCU's Regulatory Compliance and Regulatory Affairs divisions since 2007.

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