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 lifts ban on ZTE after payment of $1.4billion settlement

ZTE2Last week (13 July 2018), the US Department of Commerce announced that Chinese telecoms company ZTE (Zhongxing Telecommunications Equipment Corporation and ZTE Kangxun Telecommunications Ltd) had placed $400 million in escrow at a US bank and, as a result, the Department had lifted the 7-year denial order on ZTE pursuant to the $1.4 billion settlement agreement approved last month (see our previous blog for the full details of that new agreement).

EU adds Algerian national to ISIL & A-Q sanctions list

Terrorist.jpgThe EU has added Algerian national Rabah Tahari to its ISIL (Da’esh) and Al-Qaeda sanctions list (asset freeze imposed). See Council Decision (CFSP) 2018/1000, Council Implementing Regulation (EU) 2018/999, and UK OFSI Notice.

This is the second person to be designated under these sanctions. French national Fabien Clain was the first to be designated in February 2018 (previous blog).

EU Parliament backs proposal for European Investment Bank work in Iran

European Parliament2.jpgIn light of the recent US decision to withdraw from the JCPOA and to reimpose sanctions on Iran, the EU Parliament approved last week (4 July 2018) the first reading of a Commission Delegated Decision which adds Iran to the list of countries eligible for investment activities by the European Investment Bank (EIB) (the EIB’s External Lending Mandate). The Delegated Decision, however, will not oblige the EIB to work with Iran.

This measure, along with the EU’s amended Blocking Statute (previous blog), forms the EU’s strategic approach to protecting European companies from the extraterritorial effects of US Iran sanctions.

EU extends Russian sectoral sanctions for 6 months

EU6.jpgThe EU has prolonged its sanctions targeting the financial, energy and defence sectors of the Russian economy until 31 January 2019, see Council Decision (CFSP) 2018/964 (we reported last week that EU leaders had agreed to continue the sanctions). The EU measures were originally introduced in July 2014 for 1 year (and strengthened in September 2014) in response to “Russia’s actions destabilising the situation in Ukraine”. EU press release here (includes a summary of the sanctions prolonged by this Decision).

Statement from Joint Commission of JCPOA

Iran-US.jpgToday, the Joint Commission of the JCPOA (the body responsible for overseeing the implementation of the JCPOA) held a ministerial level meeting in Vienna to discuss the continued implementation of the Iran nuclear deal in light of the recent US decision to withdraw from the agreement and to reimpose sanctions on Iran. Statement here.

The meeting was chaired by EU High Representative Federica Mogherini and was attended by representatives from China, France, Germany, Russia, UK and Iran. They all reconfirmed their commitment to the full and effective implementation of the nuclear deal, and affirmed their commitment regarding the following objectives:

·         The maintenance and promotion of wider economic and sectoral relations with Iran;

·         The preservation and maintenance of effective financial channels with Iran;

·         The continuation of Iran’s export of oil and gas condensate, petroleum products and petrochemicals;

·         The continuation of sea (including shipping and insurance), land, air and rail transportation relations;

·         The promotion of export credit cover;

·         Clear and effective support for economic operators trading with Iran, particularly SMEs;

·         The encouragement of further investments in Iran;

·         The protection of economic operators for their investment and other commercial and financial activities in or in relation to Iran;

·         The bringing together of private and public-sector experts, including through the promotion of Business Councils;

·         The practical support for trade with and investment in Iran; and

·     The protection of companies from the extraterritorial effects of US sanctions (see previous blog on the updating of the EU Blocking Statute).

OFAC adds 3 Nicaraguans to Global Magnitsky sanctions list

OFAC2Yesterday, OFAC added 3 Nicaraguan nationals to its Global Magnitsky sanctions list (asset freezes and travel bans imposed).

Francisco Diaz (Nicaraguan National Police Commissioner) and Fidel Moreno (Secretary of the Mayor’s Office of Managua) were sanctioned pursuant to Executive Order (EO) 13818 for being “responsible for, or the leaders of entities involved in, serious human rights abuse in Nicaragua”. Jose Francisco Lopez (President of the Nicaraguan state-owned oil company Petronic, and Vice President of ALBA de Nicaragua (company that imports and sells Venezuelan petroleum products)) was sanctioned pursuant to EO 13818 for “engaging in corrupt activities”. See OFAC Notice and US Treasury press release.