Treasury Sanctions North Korean Officials and Companies from Transportation, Mining, Energy, and Financial Services Industries

On December 2, OFAC announced its decision to designate 16 entities and seven individuals in response to North Korea’s ongoing nuclear weapons development and violations of U.N. security council resolutions. The designations include a number of North Korean banks and other entities in the financial services sector of the North Korean economy. As a result of today’s action, any property or interests in property of the designated persons in the possession or control of U.S. persons or within the United States must be blocked. Additionally, U.S. persons are generally prohibited from engaging in transactions involving the designated persons and listed aircraft. The additions to the Specially Designated Nationals List were made pursuant to Executive Orders 13382, 13687, and 13722, which target proliferators of weapons of mass destruction, the Government of North Korea, and a number of North Korean trade and industry sectors, including transportation, coal and energy, and financial services.

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Treasury Announces its Latest Round of Federal Tax Credit Allocations to Community Development Entities

On November 17, Treasury announced that its Community Development Financial Institutions Fund (CDFI Fund) will provide a total of $7 billion in New Markets Tax Credit (NMTC) awards to over 120 organizations nationwide. The 120 organizations receiving awards were selected from a pool of 238 applicants that requested approximately $17.6 billion in allocation authority. This year’s award brings the total amount awarded through the NMTC Program to $50.5 billion.

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IG Report Concludes that IRS Lacks Compliance Strategy For Virtual Currencies

On November 8, the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) released a report evaluating the IRS’s strategy for addressing income produced via virtual currencies. The report which was completed on Sept. 21, but released Tuesday, observed that none of the agency’s divisions have yet developed any type of compliance initiatives or guidelines for conducting examinations or investigations specific to tax noncompliance related to virtual currencies. Accordingly, the TIGTA recommended that the IRS develop a comprehensive strategy for virtual currencies such as Bitcoin to help ensure compliance with tax law. The report also recommended that the IRS provide updated guidance to reflect the necessary documentation requirements and tax treatments necessary for the various uses of virtual currency and that the agency revise third-party reporting documents so that they identify how much virtual currency was used in taxable transactions. The IRS agreed with each of these three recommendations.

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Financial Stability Oversight Council will hold its first post-election meetings on November 16

On November 16, Treasury Secretary Jack Lew will preside over a meeting of the Financial Stability Oversight Council (FSOC). The agenda will include both an open and an executive session. The preliminary agenda for the open session includes an update on the work of the Alternative Reference Rates Committee, an update on the council’s review of the asset management industry and revisions to the council’s regulations under the Freedom of Information Act. The preliminary agenda for the executive session includes a presentation on stress tests of central counterparties conducted by the CFTC, a discussion of confidential data related to the Council’s review of asset management products and activities, and an update on the annual re-evaluation of the designation of a non-bank financial company.

Open session Council meetings are made available to the public via live webcast and also can be viewed after they occur here. Meeting minutes for the most recent Council meeting are generally approved at the next Council meeting and posted online soon afterwards. Meeting minutes for past Council meetings are available here. Readouts for past Council meetings are available here.

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Treasury and Federal Reserve Support G-7 Elements of Cybersecurity for the Financial Sector

On October 11, the U.S. Department of the Treasury announced that the Group of Seven (G-7) countries – comprised of the United States, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, and the United Kingdom – issued fundamental elements to “help address cyber risks facing the financial sector from both entity-specific and system-wide perspectives.” In Fundamental Elements of Cybersecurity for the Financial Sector, G-7 outlines eight elements for private and public entities within the financial sector to use as “building blocks” for confronting cyber-related issues, the first of which is to establish and implement tailored cybersecurity strategies and operational frameworks that should be tailored to an entity’s nature, size, complexity, risk profile, and culture. G-7’s remaining seven elements are as follows: (i) define and facilitate effective governance structures to ensure accountability; (ii) identify cyber risks and implement control assessments, including systems, policies, procedures, and training; (iii) “establish systematic monitoring processes to rapidly detect cyber incidents and periodically evaluate the effectiveness of identified controls, including through network monitoring, testing, audits, and exercises”; (iv) ensure that incident response policies are effective and guarantee timeliness; (v) establish and test contingency plans that help to ensure effective recovery of critical functions and operations; (vi) share cybersecurity information with internal and external stakeholders, including threat indicators, vulnerabilities, and incidents; and (vii) develop a review process that addresses, among other things, evolving cyber risks. In support of the G-7 elements, Federal Reserve Vice Chairman Stanley Fischer stated that they are “a crucial step in furthering hardening each link in the chain of our global financial system.”

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