UN lifts all sanctions on Côte d’Ivoire

The UN Security Council has lifted its sanctions regime on Côte d’Ivoire, by Resolution 2283.  The sanctions regime imposed an arms embargo on Côte d’Ivoire and targeted asset freezes and travel bans on people deemed by the Council’s Sanctions Committee to constitute a threat to the peace and reconciliation process in Côte d’Ivoire, following a long period of internal conflict.  It has also renewed the mandate of UNOCI, its peacekeeping mission in the country, until 30 June 2017 and dissolved the related Group of Experts and Sanctions Committee.

In a press release welcoming the Security Council’s decision, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon stated that “the continued positive evolution of the situation in Côte d’Ivoire, including the successful conclusion of the presidential elections last year” has enabled the UN to enter the final stage of peacekeeping in the country.

Turkish businessman pleads not guilty to sanctions charges

Reza Zarrab, a Turkish businessman arrested in the US last month on charges of conspiring to evade US sanctions on Iran, has pleaded not guilty (see previous blog).

According to the indictment against Mr Zarrab and 2 of his co-conspirators, between 2010 and 2015 he engaged in transactions on behalf of the government of Iran and several blocked Iranian entities, laundered the proceeds of those transactions, and defrauded a number of financial institutions by concealing the nature of the transactions. Among the alleged beneficiaries of the conspiracy were Bank Mellat, National Iranian Oil Company, Naftiran Intertrade Company Ltd, and Hong Kong Intertrade Company, all of which are still subject to primary US sanctions.

UN blacklists vessel carrying Libyan crude oil

The UN Security Council’s Sanctions Committee on Libya has blacklisted the vessel Distya Ameya (aka. Kassos), which is said to have violated UN sanctions by carrying an illicit shipment of crude oil on behalf of the rival eastern government in Libya.  The Committee’s decision follows a request made by Libya’s ambassador to the UN Ibrahim Dabbashi asking for the vessel to be blacklisted, and prevents it from entering ports or unloading its cargo.

The sanctions were imposed pursuant to Resolution 2146, which prohibits illicit crude oil exports from Libya.

John Kerry says foreign banks should “feel free to deal with Iran”

US Secretary of State John Kerry said on Saturday that the USA is not seeking to prevent Iran from dealing with banks outside the US, that he wanted to address the “confusion” among some foreign banks, and that foreign banks should now “feel free to do business with Iran”.  He said if banks have questions about the remaining sanctions targeting Iran’s missile program and sponsorship of militant groups “they should just ask”.  US officials are hosting events around the world, with the intention of helping businesses understand the sanctions regimes they still need to navigate in order to do business with Iran (see previous blog). Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said that sanctions on Iran had been lifted on paper only, because the US creates “Iranophobia so no one does business with Iran” in spite of the JCPOA.

EU regulation lists N Korea Insurance Co

3426-thumb-150x150As per the EU decision earlier this month (see previous blog), the EU has now listed Korea National Insurance Corporation, de-listed KNIC GmbH, and changed the reasons for listing various individuals said to be associated with KNIC, on the targeted parts of its N Korea sanctions.  The regulation implementing the EU decision making those changes is now in the Official Journal; See Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2016/659 amending Council Regulation (EC) 329/2007 (also on the sanctions in force section of this blog).

EU adds 5 UN listings to ISIL/Al-Qaida sanctions

The EU has added 5 new people to its sanctions on ISIL & Al-Qaida, implementing the UN’s listings last week.  All 5 are said to be connected with ISIL, and include an oil and gas division official said to oversee at least 5 oil fields, and its chief religious advisor.

See Commission Implementing Regulation 2016/647 implementing Council Regulation 881/2002.  HM Treasury’s notice is here.

US report on sanctions penalties

The US Government Accountability Office (GAO), an independent monitor of federal government spending, has published a report on the fines and penalties imposed on financial institutions for violations of US sanctions and other financial crime regulations.  The report states that, between January 2009 and December 2015, around $12bn of fines, penalties, and forfeitures were assessed by federal agencies, of which $6.8bn was for sanctions violations.  Federal agencies are said to have collected all but $100m of the $12bn due.

Of the $6.8bn, $301m in penalties was imposed by OFAC, in amounts ranging from $8,700 to $152m, and $5.7bn in criminal and civil forfeitures and fines was assessed by the Department of Justice and participating Treasury offices and law enforcement partners.  Most of the $5.7bn was assessed against BNP Paribas in 2014 for moving over $8.8bn through the US financial system on behalf of sanctioned entities (see previous blog).

EU renews Myanmar sanctions for 1 year

The EU has renewed its remaining sanctions on Burma/Myanmar for a year, until 30 April 2017.  The sanctions impose an embargo on providing Burma/Myanmar with arms and goods that might be used for internal repression.   Before April 2013, the EU also had trade, financial, and targeted sanctions in place, but those have now been lifted (see previous blog).

See Decision (CFSP) 2016/627 amending Decision 2013/184/CFSP.