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Treasury deputy chief says reviewing costs, benefits of U.S. sanctions

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Economy5 hours ago (Apr 21, 2021 04:45PM ET)

Treasury deputy chief says reviewing costs, benefits of U.S. sanctions
© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Adewale Adeyemo confirmation hearing to be Deputy Secretary of the Treasury

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Treasury Deputy Secretary Wally Adeyemo told securities industry executives on Wednesday that the Treasury will weigh the costs and benefits of financial sanctions to ensure that they remain a strong and viable foreign policy tool.

In a statement following a meeting with the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association (SIFMA), the Treasury said Adeyemo gave the group an update on his review of Treasury sanctions policy, saying that sanctions “have become the tool of first resort” to address national security and international economic challenges.

“He explained that while this tool has resulted in notable successes, it has also created unanticipated challenges,” Treasury said without naming specific cases.

“The Deputy Secretary stressed that moving forward, and as the United States faces a changing international order, the Treasury Department is assessing the costs and benefits of sanctions use in each case with an eye towards ensuring they remain a strong, viable option for policymakers in the years and decades to come.”

Treasury also said that the review will seek to ensure that sanctions implementation and enforcement are “relevant, rigorous, and fit to purpose, while advancing United States goals.”

Treasury sanctions feature prominently in a broad array of U.S. actions last week to punish Russia for interfering in last year’s U.S. election, cyber hacking, bullying Ukraine and other alleged malign actions.

These included barring U.S. financial institutions from buying newly issued Russian government rouble-denominated debt and blacklisting 32 entities and individuals that it had said carried out Russian “acts of disinformation and interference,” effectively blocking their access to U.S. dollar transactions.

SIFMA’s members, including broker-dealers, investment banks and asset managers, must ensure their transactions are compliant with U.S. Treasury sanctions.

The Trump administration reapplied Treasury sanctions on Iran to curb its military activities after Washington left a 2015 nuclear accord.

Plans for the Treasury review were first disclosed to Reuters by administration officials as President Joe Biden took office in January.

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