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Crypto-currencies and OFAC: UK residents.

BIScom Subsection: 
Author: 
Nigel Morris-Cotterill

A correspondent asks "As a UK individual how do I report / alert the US authorities to the a craptocurrency used by employees and the Chairman of a group of companies with offices in St Louis, Missouri ?"

Here's the answer, and it explains differences between OFAC and FinCEN, etc. reports.

To answer your question the first thing is to establish if you are subject to OFAC. The answer is that, as an individual with no physical or legal connection to the USA, you are probably not.

If you are doing business in the USA and have any kind of "footprint" there, then you are subject to some but not all aspects of it and of those you are subject to there are degrees. OFAC publishes the lists for a number of agencies. The safe option is to assume that, if you do business in or have a footprint there and do business in US Dollars, you should consider it at least likely that you have some obligations. Complying is easy but may have commercial implications.

From your question, though, it seems as if what you are concerned about is not whether the persons you mentioned in your question (but which we have, for many reasons, removed) are listed on an OFAC list but rather than you think there is some questionable conduct in progress or in the past.

The important differences between OFAC reports and money laundering or terrorist financing reports are as follows:

1. OFAC reports are reports of fact whereas money laundering and terrorist financing reports (which are made, by US businesses that fall within certain classes to FinCEN, a different Treasury department / regulator) are reports of suspicion. Individuals and businesses that are not classified as regulated under FinCEN make reports to the police where the predicate crime happened or, if the crime is inter-state or international to the FBI. Experience tells us they tend to file reports from foreign entities under "forget about it: no political benefit in taking a case from a foreigner to chase an American."

2. A report to OFAC is not confidential; a report to FinCEN must not be publicised to anyone. So called "tipping off" is a criminal offence.

3. If you think that a crime is committed in the USA, then your reporting line would be to the local police or the FBI. If the offence is committed in the UK, then, if you work in a regulated business and the crime was committed using your employer as a vehicle, your reporting line is to your money laundering reporting officer (MLRO). There are various names used in the UK these days. If you are not employed in such a business, but the information of the offence comes to you in the course of your trade, profession, business or employment, then you have a duty to make a report. That report is made to your local police. There is a technical obligation to make a report even if you find out in your private life but the duty is not well phrased and has not been tested in Court, so far as I am aware. Note: if you knowingly take part in a money laundering scheme, then you are subject to criminal proceedings. You may make a defensive report at any time.

So, as you can see, there is a certain flow to deciding when and to whom to make a report.

From your question, I suspect that OFAC is the wrong route unless the persons you mention are already on an OFAC list (you can check on-line - it's free).

DISCLAIMER: this comment is made with regard to the limited facts revealed in the question. It is not intended to be and must not be considered legal advice. All persons are cautioned to take proper legal advice from a suitably qualified professional in their own jurisdiction.

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