US couple, company & Syrian national indicted for conspiracy to violate US-Syria export laws

US Department of JusticeLast week, a US couple (Anni Beurklian and Antoine Ajaka), their company (Top Tech US Inc.), and a Syrian national (Amir Katranji) were indicted in a federal court in Boston for (inter alia) conspiracy to violate US export laws and regulations. In particular, for being involved in a scheme to smuggle goods out of the US and to supply services to Syria. Following plea negotiations in January 2018, Ms. Beurklian and Mr. Ajaka are alleged to have fled the US to avoid prosecution, and have yet to return. US Department of Justice press release here.

US extends South Sudan & malicious cyber activity sanctions for 1 year

shutterstock_198276725.jpgSouth Sudan:

In April 2014, the US adopted Executive Order (EO) 13664, which declared a national emergency in respect of South Sudan (for activities that threatened the peace, security, or stability of South Sudan and the surrounding region). That EO imposed a number of asset freezing measures and travel restrictions.

On 27 March 2018, US President Trump extended for 1 year the sanctions contained in EO 13664 by continuing the national emergency as declared. White House Notice here.

Significant Malicious Cyber-Enabled Activities:

In April 2015, the US adopted EO 13694 (as amended by EO 13757, December 2016), which declared a national emergency in respect of those engaging in ‘Significant Malicious Cyber-Enabled Activities” (malicious cyber-enabled activities originating from, or directed by persons located, in whole or in substantial part, outside the US). That EO imposed a number of asset freezing measures and travel restrictions.

On 27 March 2018, US President Trump extended for 1 year the sanctions contained in EO 13694 by continuing the national emergency as declared. White House Notice here.

Switzerland aligns with EU-Venezuela sanctions

Switzerland1.jpgYesterday, the Swiss Federal Council adopted sanctions against Venezuela in order to align itself with recent EU measures (see previous blogs here and here). As a result, an arms and repressive goods embargo have been adopted, as well as targeted measures (asset freezes and travel restrictions) against 7 Venezuelan ministers/high-ranking officials. Swiss press release here.

Government position on UK-EU sanctions cooperation post-Brexit

UK Gov.jpgThe UK government has set out its aims for UK-EU sanctions cooperation post-Brexit, see here.

Upon leaving the EU, the UK will “pursue an independent foreign policy” but shall seek a “close and cooperative relationship that goes beyond existing third country relationships with the EU”. In particular, the UK “will want to continue to work closely together on sanctions”. There are several models in which this could take, from formal mechanisms for dialogue and information sharing, to more informal engagement (which is largely how the US works with the EU).

US designates ‘ISIS chemical weapons expert’ & ‘Uzbek fighting force group’ as global terrorists

US Department of StateLast week, the US Department of State designated a French national, Joe Asperman, and the group Katibat al-Imam al-Bukhari (KIB), as Specially Designated Global Terrorists pursuant to section 1(b) of Executive Order 13224 (asset freezes imposed). OFAC Notice here.

Joe Asperman was designated for his role as a “senior chemical weapons expert for ISIS”, as well as overseeing “chemical operations production within Syria for ISIS and the deployment of [those] chemical weapons at the battlefront”. Department of State press release here.

KIB was designated for being the “largest Uzbek fighting force in Syria”, and for playing a “significant role in the fighting in northwestern Syria, fighting alongside groups including al-Nusrah Front” (an al-Qa’ida affiliated group in Syria). Department of State press release here.

EU updates 3 entries on Sudan sanctions list

EU3.jpgOn 14 March 2018, the UN Security Council amended the entries of 3 people appearing under its Sudan sanctions list, namely: Musa Hilal Abdalla Alnsiem, Adam Yacub Sharif and Ibril Abdulkarim Ibrahim Mayu (previous blog here).

Today, the EU has implemented those changes by adopting Council Implementing Decision (CFSP) 2018/516 and Council Implementing Regulation (EU) 2018/512.

US subjects 23 companies to export restrictions for threatening US interests

The US Bureau of Industry and Security has added 23 companies to its Entity List, which lists entities the US believes to be acting contrary to its national security or foreign policy interests. As a consequence, a licence will be required for any export or transfer to the 23 companies, including where they act only as an intermediate consignee, and no licence exceptions are available for transactions they are involved in.

The additions comprise 15 companies from South Sudan, listed for being government, parastatal, or private entities acting contrary to US foreign policy interests, 7 from Pakistan, listed for their involvement in the nuclear trade, and 1 from Singapore, also listed for its involvement in the nuclear trade.

As part of the same action, BIS has also de-listed Ecuadorian company Corporacion Nacional de Telecommunicaciones and UAE company Talaat Mehmood.

The details of the changes are here.

18 countries expel Russian intelligence officers; UK Commons inquiry

More than 20 countries have announced their intention to expel over 100 Russian intelligence officers from their countries.

The US is expelling 60 Russian intelligence officers in retaliation for the Salisbury poisoning, in order to reduce Russia’s ability to “spy on Americans” and show Russia that “its actions have consequences” (see White House statements here and here). 48 are based at the Russian mission to the USA and 12 at the UN mission in New York. The US has also closed the Russian consulate in Seattle. Russia has said it will retaliate.

The European Council has said that 14 EU member states had decided to expel Russian diplomats after the UK expelled 23. So far Germany, France and Poland have said they will expel 4, Lithuania & the Czech 3, and Denmark, Italy and the Netherlands 2. Ukraine will expel 13 Russian diplomats and Canada 4. The EU has said that “additional measures, including further expulsions within this common EU framework are not to be excluded in the coming days and weeks.”

New Zealand has announced that it will be imposing travel restrictions on all the individuals that are expelled by other countries (New Zealand made no actual expulsions, as its government had declared that there were no individuals who fell into the profile of ‘undeclared Russian intelligence agent’).

Meanwhile, the UK House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee is to examine whether and how the UK can impose further financial sanctions on Russian money in British tax havens.