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.

US accuses Huawei’s CFO of violating Iran sanctions

Huawei.jpgUS authorities have requested the extradition of Huawei’s Chief Financial Officer and daughter of the firm’s founder, Meng Wanzhou, who is currently being held on remand in Vancouver, Canada, over allegations that she utilised Skycom Tech Co Ltd, an “unofficial subsidiary” of Huawei, in order to violate US sanctions on Iran between 2009 and 2014. Her bail hearing before a Vancouver court is due to be determined today.

OFAC further prolongs EN+, RUSAL & GAZ Group licences

OFAC3OFAC has issued 4 general licences related to EN+ Group, RUSAL, and GAZ Group, which further extend the expiration date of their previous versions from 7 January 2019 to 21 January 2019. See General Licences 13H, 14D, 15C, and 16D. See OFAC Notice and US Treasury Press Release.

EU likely to further prolong Russia sectoral sanctions

EU3At last week’s G20 Summit in Buenos Aires, Argentina (30 November), the President of the EU Council, Donald Tusk, stated that given the recent “escalation in the Sea of Azov” of Russian forces against Ukrainian ships, he was “sure that the EU [would] roll over the sanctions against Russia in December”, namely, the measures targeting the financial, energy and defence sectors of the Russian economy (which are due to expire on 31 January 2019). No reference was made as to whether EU leaders were looking to increase the scope of these sanctions.

The sectoral sanctions were originally introduced in July 2014 (and strengthened in September 2014) for 1 year in response to Russia’s actions “destabilising the situation in Ukraine”. The sanctions have been renewed every 6 months since adoption.

UK chemicals company fined $7k for violating export controls

HMRCA Leicestershire-based company, VWR International Ltd, has been fined a total of £7,039 at City of London Magistrates Court after pleading guilty to 4 counts of exporting goods contrary to a prohibition or restriction. Specifically, VWR illegally shipped 4 consignments of controlled chemicals and metal to foreign jurisdictions without the required export licence. VWR shipped the first consignment days after being denied the necessary licence, and failed to apply for the required licence in relation to the other three consignments. The case was investigated and prosecuted on behalf of HMRC.

Canada sanctions 17 Saudi nationals over Khashoggi killing

Canada1.jpgCanada has imposed targeted sanctions (asset freezes and travel bans) against 17 Saudi nationals, pursuant to the Justice for Victims of Corrupt Foreign Officials Act (Sergei Magnitsky Law), for being “responsible for or complicit in the extrajudicial killing of Jamal Khashoggi that took place at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey, on October 2, 2018”. See Press Release for the list of individuals sanctioned.

Earlier this month, the US sanctioned the same 17 Saudi nationals under its Global Magnitsky Laws (Executive Order 13818) for “serious human rights abuse resulting from their roles in the killing of Jamal Khashoggi” (see previous blog).

New US Executive Order targeting Nicaragua

Trump5US President Donald Trump has issued a new Executive Order targeting Nicaragua. It imposes US asset freezes and travel bans on (inter alia) individuals and entities engaged in corruption, serious human rights abuses, and actions or policies which undermine democracy, or threaten the peace, security or stability of Nicaragua. It also targets officials of the Nicaraguan Government who have served at any time on or after 10 January 2007.

Pursuant to this new Executive Order, OFAC has sanctioned two of Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega’s associates: Rosario Maria Murillo De Ortega, Vice President of Nicaragua and First Lady, and Nestor Moncada Lau, national security advisor to the President and Vice President. As a result, they will now be subject to US asset freezes and travel bans. See OFAC Notice, US Treasury Press Release, and White House Fact Sheet.

UK sentences 3 people for trafficking fighter jet parts to Iran

Parliament8Three individuals – Alexander Samuel George, Paul Robert Attwater, and Iris Louise Attwater – have been convicted in the UK of evading export controls in relation to Iran.

Alexander George, who was sentenced yesterday to 2½ years’ imprisonment, shipped military items to Iran, including Russian MiG and US F4 Phantom parts, through various companies and countries without the appropriate licence. Paul Attwater and his wife Iris, who each received suspended sentences of 6 months’ imprisonment last month, sourced dual-use aircraft parts from the USA and shipped them to Alexander George’s companies in Malaysia and Dubai, which then sent them to Iran.

The offenders were also disqualified from being a company director (9 years for Alexander George, and 6 years each for Paul and Iris Attwater). POCA proceedings will now follow to recover the money made from the criminality. See UK Press Release.

UN, US & EU add 1 person to terrorism sanctions list

TerroristEarlier this week (19 November), the UN Security Council added 1 individual, Hajji ‘Abd al-Nasir, to its ISIL (Da’esh) and Al-Qaida sanctions list (UN asset freeze, travel ban and arms embargo imposed). See UN Press Release and Narrative Summary of Reasons for Listing.

Yesterday (20 November), the US implemented this UN listing by designating al-Nasir as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist (SDGT) pursuant to Executive Order 13224. See OFAC Notice and US Department of State Press Release.

On 22 November, the EU implemented this UN listing, see Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2018/1809.