US sanctions authority OFAC announces de-listing

Removal from the list of sanctioned entities.


The United States Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) has removed OWH SE i.L. (OWH), which operated as VTB Bank (Europe) SE prior to its renaming, from the list of sanctioned entities. This is a consequence of the German Federal Financial Supervisory Authority’s (BaFin) shielding of the Russian majority shareholder VTB Bank PJSC. With this so-called de-listing of 8 April 2024, OFAC, supplemented by a general license issued on 19 April 2024, clarified that all transactions with OWH are permissible from the perspective of US sanctions law and that frozen US assets of OWH are freely available to it again. This means that OWH is not subject to sanctions-related restrictions in either the European Union or the United States of America. In the United Kingdom, it has a far-reaching liquidation license.

“Of course, OWH will continue to comply with all US sanctions regulations, including those relating to sanctioned persons and companies from Russia, even after the de-listing that has now taken place, just as we have done to date,” says Frank Hellwig, the special representative of BaFin and liquidator at OWH. “However, this simplifies the liquidation of OWH considerably,” adds the second liquidator Miro Zadro. “In particular, it is now legally possible to access OWH’s previously frozen assets at US banks. We have entered into dialogue with the US banks concerned in order to be able to dispose of the assets there again. In the coming weeks and months, we will be working with the customers concerned to find ways and means to fulfil mutual claims and liabilities and thus get them off our books in accordance with the liquidation resolution.”

In February 2022, BaFin had already issued far-reaching orders to ensure compliance with Western sanctions, prevent an outflow of funds to Russia and ensure the solvency of the institution. In April 2022, BaFin prohibited the Russian majority shareholder VTB Bank PJSC from exercising the voting rights from its shares in OWH. At BaFin’s request, the Frankfurt am Main Local Court transferred the voting rights to a trustee. As a result of these measures, the bank, which now trades as OWH SE i.L., is completely shielded from its Russian parent company and its group.