On October 15, 2021, the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) published a brochure on “Sanctions Compliance Guidance for the Virtual Currency Industry,” aimed at providing compliance guidance for this rapidly growing sector. In addition, OFAC also updated two of its related Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs). In essence, OFAC is trying to increase awareness of its efforts to prevent U.S. persons from dealing with sanctioned persons or jurisdictions, or engaging in unauthorized transactions using virtual currencies. According to FAQ No. 559, virtual currency is defined as “a digital representation of value that functions as (i) a medium of exchange; (ii) a unit of account; and/or (iii) a store of value; and is neither issued nor guaranteed by any jurisdiction.” Once a U.S. person determines that they hold virtual currency that is required to be blocked pursuant to OFAC’s regulations, FAQ No. 646 clarifies that the U.S. person must deny all parties access to that virtual currency, ensure that they comply with OFAC regulations related to the holding and reporting of blocked assets and implement controls that align with a risk-based approach.

View the key highlights in our Foreign Investment & Trade Alert.