US charges Iranian national with $115m sanctions evasion scheme

US Department of Justice.jpgThe US Department of Justice (Southern District of New York) has announced that Iranian national Ali Sadr Hashemi Nejad has been charged with allegedly participating in a scheme to evade US sanctions against Iran; specifically, “a scheme in which more than $115 million in payments for a Venezuelan housing complex were illegally funnelled through the US financial system for the benefit of Iranian individuals and entities”.

Geoffrey Berman, US Attorney for the Southern District of New York, stated that Mr Nejad had “created a network of front companies and foreign bank accounts [(in Switzerland, Turkey and the British Virgin Islands)] to mask Iranian business dealings in Venezuela and evade US sanctions”.

In light of the charges, the Malta Financial Services Authority (MFSA) has issued an order to remove Mr Nejad, with immediate effect, from the position of director (along with any other executive roles) of the Pilatus Bank Limited. His voting rights as a shareholder of the bank have also been suspended. MFSA Notices here and here.

On 28 March 2018, Mr. Nejad pleaded not guilty to the charges before US Magistrate Judge Barbara Moses in Manhattan.

This entry was posted in Iran, USA by Michael O'Kane. Bookmark the permalink.

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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