Sassi Riar is a member of the Government Investigations & White Collar Practice and focuses on white collar criminal defense, regulatory enforcement and internal investigations. She helps clients facing allegations of white collar criminal, civil and regulatory violations avoid prosecution and minimize potentially damaging outcomes. Having been based in the Middle East for six years prior to returning to Washington DC, Sassi has particular expertise handling cases involving economic sanctions, anti-money laundering and counter terrorism financing (AML-CTF) laws and regulations, export controls, bribery and corruption, and bank fraud. She assists clients with crisis management and counsels senior management for entities across the Middle East and Africa, Levant, Europe and South Asia through multi-agency, multijurisdictional financial crime investigations and enforcement actions. She conducts high-level compliance assessments, based on industry standards, legal requirements and international best practices, to identify deficiencies or conduct issues that could give rise to enforcement liability. Sassi works closely with senior-level executives to develop comprehensive and customized solutions to resolve gaps, improve processes, reform compliance functions and internal controls, and assuage risks to business operations.

    In 2021, Sassi was selected by a multinational telecommunications services provider, currently operating in 16 countries across Asia, the Middle East and Africa, for an extended secondment, due to her in-depth knowledge of sanctions and money laundering laws. During her secondment, Sassi provided sanctions compliance and anti-money laundering advisory counsel, drafted a group-level global sanctions and export controls policy, presented a sanctions and export controls training for more than 100 globally situated employees, and conducted a risk assessment of each of its subsidiaries.

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    • Representing foreign financial institutions, primarily in the Middle East, Asia and Africa, in investigations of potential violations of US sanctions and money laundering laws, including representation before OFAC, the Department of Justice, US Attorneys’ Offices and other US and home-country enforcement agencies and regulators.
    • Represented a global, GCC-based bank in defending and resolving a multiyear OFAC investigation with the issuance of a non-public cautionary letter and no finding of violation or monetary penalty.
    • Represented National Commercial Bank, Saudi Arabia’s largest bank, in defending and settling a multiyear OFAC investigation of apparent violations of US sanctions against Sudan and Syria.
    • Represented Habib Bank Limited, Pakistan’s largest bank, in liquidating its New York branch without further enforcement action by the Federal Reserve or the New York Department of Financial Services.
    • Advised a regional bank on BSA/AML and sanctions matters related to loans, trade finance and customer due diligence.
    • Represented a global food production and distribution company in internal investigation of alleged sanctions violations and deceptive business practices by senior executives.
    • Investigated allegations made by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) in the Panama, Paradise and Pandora Papers against prominent persons.
    • Investigated whistleblower allegations involving certain key executives of an international financial institution.
    • Designed a sanctions and AML compliance program for a multinational telecommunication services provider operating in 16 countries across Asia, the Middle East and Africa.

    Education

    • The George Washington University, J.D., 2014
    • The George Washington University, B.A., 2010

    Admissions

    • District of Columbia, 2017
    • New York, 2015

    Languages

    • Urdu
    • English
    • Recognized as a key lawyer in the firm team across Europe, the Middle East and Africa for Compliance and Investigations by The Legal 500 Europe, Middle East & Africa 2021
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