US sanctions alleged Chinese & Russian supporters of North Korea

The US has targeted alleged Chinese, Russian, and Singaporean supporters of the North Korean Regime, adding 6 people and 10 entities to its SDN List.  Specifically, the new designations are aimed at people and entities who are assisting already-designated persons who support North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile programmes, deal in the North Korean energy trade, facilitate North Korea’s exportation of workers, or enable sanctioned entities to access US and international financial systems.

Among those listed are 3 Chinese coal importers, Russian firm Gefest-M, and 2 Singapore based companies said to be providing oil to North Korea.  China has responded by saying that the US should “immediately correct its mistake” of imposing sanctions on Chinese people and entities. The US Treasury’s press release is here, and the details of the listings are here.

Russia appoints sanctioned person as US ambassador

Russia has appointed Anatoly Antonov, who is subject to EU and Canadian sanctions for his role in supporting Russia’s annexation of Crimea, as its ambassador to the US.  Antonov was Russia’s Deputy Defence Minister when Russia annexed Crimea in 2014, and became the country’s Deputy Foreign Minister in December last year. When he assumes office on 1 September, he will replace Sergei Kislyak – a key figure in claims that Russia interfered in the 2016 US presidential election.

EU amends terrorist listing to show person was killed

The EU has implemented a UN amendment to the identifying information given for Rustam Magomedovich, listed on UN sanctions against ISIL & Al-Qaida. The amendment states that he was killed on 3 December 2016, and does not say why he continues to be UN designated.

See Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2017/1488 amending Council Regulation (EC) 881/2002.

Russian court rejects Siemens’ application to seize gas turbines shipped to Crimea

A Russian Court has dismissed an application brought by Siemens for an injunction to seize gas turbines it produced with Russian firm Technopromexport, shipped to Crimea by the Russian firm in alleged contravention of EU sanctions (see previous blog). EU people and entities are prohibited from providing certain technology to Crimea for use in its energy sector.

The turbines are crucial for providing electricity to the Crimea region, which was promised a stable power supply by the Russian government but has endured frequent blackouts. Siemens says that there was a written agreement with its Russian partner not to export the turbines to Crimea. Preliminary hearings in Siemens’ case against Technopromexport are due to begin next month.

OFAC fines American Export Lines for violating US sanctions on Iran

OFAC has fined American Export Lines (AEL), a US-based international freight forwarding and logistics company, $518,063 for violating US sanctions on Iran.  The violations, which AEL did not voluntarily disclose, are said to have occurred when AEL transhipped used and junked cars and parts from the US via Iran to Afghanistan on 140 occasions.  AEL’s conduct was aggravated by the fact that its President and co-owner knew and approved of the transhipments via Iran, but mitigated by the fact that none of the shipments appear to have had an end use in that country.

OFAC’s enforcement notice is here.

US designates 2 ISIL leaders

The US State Department has designated 2 leaders of ISIL, Ahmad Alkhald and Abu Yahya al-Iraqi, as Specially Designated Global Terrorists.  Mr Alkhald is said to be an ISIL bomb-maker who served as explosives chief of the terrorist cell that carried out the November 2015 attacks in Paris and the March 2016 attack in Brussels.  Mr al-Iraqi is a senior ISIL figure who is responsible for ISIL security in Iraq and Syria, including that of ISIL’s leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. The details of the listings are here.

IPSA fined $259,200 by OFAC for Iran sanctions violations

IPSA International Services, Inc., a US-based risk management firm, has been fined $259,200 by OFAC for violating US sanctions on Iran.  The violations, worth $290,784, are said to have occurred when IPSA assisted two countries with their citizenship by investment programmes.  Some of the applicants to the programmes were Iranian nationals and, because most of the information about them could not be checked or verified from outside of Iran, IPSA and its subsidiaries engaged subcontractors, who in turn hired third parties, to validate their information.  As a result, OFAC found that IPSA had directly imported Iranian-origin services into the United States, or done so indirectly by reviewing, approving, and initiating payments to the providers of the Iranian origin services by its foreign subsidiaries.

The base penalty amount was $720,000 and the maximum penalty available was $18,000,000.  In aggravation, OFAC found that IPSA had not voluntarily disclosed the violations, that at least one of its senior management knew or had reason to know of the violations, and that the underlying conduct was not eligible for OFAC authorisation under an existing licence. In mitigation, OFAC said that IPSA had substantially cooperated with its investigation and taken significant remedial measures to prevent further violations from occurring in the future.

China implements some recent UN DPRK sanctions

China has begun to implement the most recent wave of UN sanctions on North Korea, imposed by a resolution passed on 6 August (see previous blog).  Yesterday, its Commerce Ministry authorised the implementation of the new prohibitions on North Korean exports of coal, iron, iron ore, lead, lead ore, and seafood. Cargo already en route to China will be cleared as usual before the deadline for implementing the new sanctions passes on 6 September.

China has yet to begin implementation of other elements of the new sanctions, which include a ban on increasing the total number of work authorisations for North Koreans without approval from the Security Council committee and a ban on the opening of new joint ventures or expansion of existing joint ventures with North Korean firms or people.