CGG Services settles with OFAC

CGG Services, a French company providing geological services primarily to the oil and gas industry, has agreed to pay $614,250 to OFAC in settlement of its potential civil liability for apparent violations of US sanctions on Cuba.  CGG and its US affiliate CGG Services (US) are said to have breached US sanctions by exporting spare parts and other equipment from the USA to vessels operating in Cuban territorial waters, and by processing data from seismic surveys for the benefit of a Cuban company.  CGG is also said to have exported US-origin goods from unaffiliated companies to vessels operating in Cuban territorial waters.  The total value of the underlying transactions is said to be $2,758,701, and the base penalty amount for the violations was $975,000, with a maximum of $2,340,000.

In its enforcement notice, OFAC states that CGG’s conduct was aggravated by its reckless disregard for US sanctions in exporting US-origin goods to Cuban waters, particularly after its US affiliate warned it of the sanctions risk in doing so, and performing seismic surveys in Cuban waters without checking for a Cuban interest in the data, and CGG’s knowledge of the conduct.  However, OFAC ultimately considered the apparent violations to have been non-egregious, and found CGG’s conduct to have been mitigated by certain attempts it made to comply with sanctions, including removing US personnel and equipment from one of the vessels in question before it entered Cuban territorial waters, adjustment of its supply procedures in view of the apparent violations, and substantial cooperation with OFAC’s investigation.

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About Michael O'Kane

Michael O’Kane is a partner and Head of the Business Crime team at leading UK firm Peters & Peters. Described as ‘first-rate’ (Legal 500 2012), he “draws glowing praise from commentators” (Chambers 2013) for handling the international aspects of business crime, including sanctions, extradition and mutual legal assistance. Called to the Bar in 1992 and prior to joining Peters & Peters he was a senior specialist prosecutor at the Crown Prosecution Service Headquarters(CPS). At CPS HQ he was a key member of a small specialist unit responsible for the prosecution of serious and high profile fraud, terrorist and special interest criminal matters including the Stansted Airport Afghan hijacking and the prosecution of Paul Burrell (Princess Diana’s butler). Michael joined Peters & Peters in 2002. He became a partner in May 2004, and Head of the Business Crime team in May 2009. Since joining Peters & Peters, Michael has dealt with a wide range of business crime matters. He has particular expertise in international sanctions, criminal cartels, extradition, corruption, mutual legal assistance, and FSA investigations. Described as“ an influential practitioner in fraud and regulatory work, so much so that he is top of the referral lists of many City firms for independent advice for directors” (The Lawyer’s Hot 100 2009), he was recognised as one of the UK’s most innovative lawyers in the 2011 FT Innovative Lawyer Awards and included in the list of the UK's leading lawyers in 'The International Who's Who of Asset Recovery 2012. In 2012 he was the winner of the Global Competition Review Article of the Year. Michael regularly appears on television and radio to discuss his specialist areas and he is the author of the leading textbook on the UK Criminal Cartel Offence “The Law of Criminal Cartels-Practice and Procedure” (Oxford University Press 2009). Recent/Current Sanctions Work • Representing 109 individuals and 12 companies subject to designation by the European Council under targeted measures imposed against Zimbabwe. This is the largest and most complex collective challenge to a sanctions listing ever brought before the European Court. • Acting for a former Egyptian Minister and his UK resident wife, challenging their designation by the European Council of Ministers under targeted measures brought against former members of the Egyptian Government. • Advising a company accused in a UN investigation report to have breached UN sanctions imposed in relation to Somalia. • Advising a UK company in relation to ongoing commercial relationships with an Iranian company listed under both EU and UN sanctions. • Advising an individual in relation to a UK investigation for alleging breaching nuclear export controls.

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