OFAC has designated PacNet Group, an international payments processor and money services business based in Canada, as a Transnational Criminal Organisation (TCO) for its alleged history of money laundering on behalf of mail fraud schemes. It has also designated 12 individuals and 24 entities, across 18 countries, for providing support to PacNet or being owned or controlled by those that do. PacNet is the 7th TCO to be listed by OFAC, alongside the Japanese Yakuza crime syndicates, Mexican cartel Los Zetas, and Italian criminal organisation the Camorra.
In the US Treasury’s press release, OFAC’s Acting Director John Smith said that “PacNet has knowingly facilitated the fraudulent activities of its customers for many years” and the “large-scale, illicit money flows that are generated by these scams against vulnerable individuals”. OFAC closely coordinated the designations with the Department of Justice, which will also be announcing criminal actions and filing civil injunctions in relation to PacNet’s activities.
The General Court of the EU has dismissed Bashir Alsharghawi’s application for his listing on the EU’s Libya sanctions to be annulled, where he was included for being “closely associated with the former regime of Muammar Qadhafi”. See Case T-485/15 Alsharghawi v Council (20 September 2016).
The Court said Mr Alsharghawi had not submitted any evidence capable of calling into question the facts presented by the Council, and did not challenge the Council’s assessment of the situation in Libya or its allegation that he was closely associated with the former regime of Muammar Qadhafi. It also dismissed the applicant’s arguments that the Council lacked competence to list him, breached its obligation to state reasons, infringed his rights of defence and the presumption of innocence, and infringed his rights to property and freedom.
The EU has de-listed 19 entities from its sanctions on Iraq, which freeze the assets of the previous Government of Iraq, and related people and entities, if those assets were located outside Iraq on 22 May 2003. This implements a UN decision to de-list the entities from UN sanctions on 16 September 2016. The UN and EU de-listed 5 other entities earlier this month (see previous blogs here and here).
See Commission Implementing Regulation 2016/1695 amending Council Regulation 1210/2003.
We reported in July (here) that the House of Commons Defence Committee had called on the UK government to consider extending the EU’s Russia sanctions, but had noted that sanctions had not reduced Russian military investment and expansion, nor led to Russia’s compliance with the Minsk Agreement.
The Committee has now published the Government’s response which is as follows:
“The UK supports continuation of the robust approach by the EU towards sanctions against Russia. The EU’s Tier III economic sanctions were renewed in July. All EU member states agree that sanctions should be clearly linked to Russia’s implementation of the Minsk agreements. The UK supports the EU’s Tier II asset freeze and travel ban restrictive measures. The EU will discuss renewal of these sanctions in September 2016, when the UK will argue for complete rollover. We believe that the current sanctions are firm and proportionate.”
The EU’s High Representative, Federica Mogherini, has issued a declaration on South Sudan following widespread violence in July this year. The EU has reiterated its call on all parties to implement the Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in good faith, and remains ready to impose sanctions on anyone undermining South Sudan’s peace process. The declaration notes that the EU has long maintained an arms embargo on South Sudan, and supports the UN Security Council’s willingness to consider additional measures, including an arms embargo, should obstruction of the UN’s mission in South Sudan continue.
The US Treasury has published reports on OFAC’s licensing activities under the Trade Sanctions Reform and Export Enhancement Act 2000 for the 2nd-4th quarters of 2015 (available here). Under that legislation, OFAC processes licence applications requesting authorisation to export agricultural commodities, medicine, and medical devices to Iran and Sudan.
The reports indicate that over the reporting period the average processing time for TSRA applications increased from 71 to 88 business days, not including still unprocessed applications. 328 applications (over half of all applications filed during the reporting period) were still unprocessed at the end of the period. No licence applications were denied during the reporting period.
De-listing of Al Haramain Islamic Foundation
OFAC has removed the US branch of Al Haramain Islamic Foundation (AHIF), a charity that was listed as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist, from its SDN List. The US Treasury said last Friday the decision to de-list AHIF was taken after it agreed to dissolve, following legal action in which it accused the US government of using classified evidence to shut down a legitimate charity. In 2011, a US appeals court found that the charity’s rights of due process had been violated by not disclosing the evidence against it and failing to give reasons for its investigation (link to judgment here). AHIF’s non-US branches remain on the SDN List.
The State Department has designated Omar Diaby, Fathi Hammad, and the Jund al-Aqsa organisation as Specially Designated Global Terrorists.
- Omar Diaby – Said to lead a group of French terrorist fighters in Syria, which has fought alongside the designated group al-Nusrah Front.
- Fathi Hammad – Allegedly engaged in terrorist activity for designated entity Hamas, where he was Interior Minister. He is said to have established Al-Aqsa TV, which broadcast programmes designed to recruit children to become armed fighters and suicide bombers.
- Jund al-Aqsa – Said to have carried out several terrorist operations in Syria, including the massacre of 40 civilians in the village of Maan in 2014.
Maya Lester QC is chairing a panel at Chatham House on Iran post nuclear / sanctions agreement on 3rd October 2016 at 6pm. The panel will discuss the impact of lifting sanctions on Iran, whether economic and other benefits are being realised a year on, the position of financial institutions and businesses, and the impact of upcoming events including US and Iranian elections and Brexit. Panelists are from RUSI, the University of Alabama and Chatham House. Details here.