Financial analytics provider S&P Global agreed to pay $78,750 as part of a settlement announced Friday with the Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) regarding alleged dealings with sanctioned Russian state-owned oil company Rosneft in 2016 and 2017.
The apparent violations related to debt and equity restrictions set forth under Executive Order 13662 put in place by President Barack Obama in March 2014 in response to Russia’s annexation of Crimea and actions in Ukraine at that time. The details of the case loom large regarding the current state of sanctions against Russia amid its ongoing invasion of Ukraine beginning in February.
The details: S&P Global’s commodities data and pricing business in August 2016 acquired Petroleum Industry Research Associates (PIRA), which provided research and forecasting products and services to energy and commodity customers. At the time, PIRA had unresolved contracts with Rosneft, which had been sanctioned in July 2014.
Rosneft was issued an invoice for $82,500 from PIRA in August 2015 for advisory services and market analysis as part of an ongoing subscription, according to OFAC’s web notice. After missing an October 2015 payment date, Rosneft twice attempted payment in May 2016, but a U.S. financial institution blocked the first attempt in accordance with sanctions and requested additional information the second time that Rosneft did not provide.
Discussions of Rosneft paying the invoice by check stalled because of sanctions restrictions, according to OFAC. Following PIRA’s being acquired in August 2016, now-S&P Global employees allegedly reissued and redated the outstanding invoice and “emphasized to Rosneft the importance of timely payment” to avoid the perception of extending credit and violating the law. Rosneft sent $55,000 via wire transfer in October 2016; the remaining $27,500 owed was sent in two installments of $13,750 in December 2016 and October 2017 that prompted three more reissued and redated invoices total, according to OFAC.
“S&P Global (and prior to its acquisition, PIRA) failed to exercise a minimal degree of caution or care when it reissued and redated four invoices to extend the payment date of invoices far beyond the authorized debt tenor, knowing or having reason to know such conduct would violate U.S. sanctions regulations,” said OFAC.
According to the regulator, the case was “non-egregious.” S&P Global did not voluntarily self-disclose the apparent violations, though it received credit for cooperation and enhancements it has since made to its compliance program.
“This action … emphasizes the importance of U.S. companies conducting sanctions-related due diligence and taking active steps to extend their compliance programs, including training and monitoring, to newly incorporated businesses and their employees,” OFAC stated. “After merger and acquisition transactions are complete, companies should continue to closely oversee their new business elements in addition to their existing units to identify any additional sanctions-related issues and take appropriate preventative or remedial measures.”
S&P Global response: “We are pleased to have resolved this matter with the Office of Foreign Assets Control,” said a company spokesperson. “While this matter resulted from transactions in 2016 and 2017, S&P Global remains committed to complying with all sanctions obligations and will continue to enhance our compliance program.”