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.

Further EU sanctions on N Korea

EU2The EU has adopted today new measures against DPRK, under Council Regulation (EU) 2017/1858, which expand the ban on EU investment in and with the DPRK to all sectors, decreases the amount of personal remittances that can be sent to the DPRK from €15,000 to €5,000, and imposes a prohibition on oil exports to the DPRK. The Council has also adopted Council Implementing Regulation (EU) 2017/1859, which adds 3 persons and 6 entities to the list of those subject to an asset freeze and travel restriction (for that list, see Annexes XV and XVI of Council Regulation (EU) 2017/1509).

These new measures add to those adopted by the EU on 10 October, which implemented the sectoral sanctions imposed by the UN Security Council resolution 2375 (2017) (for the previous blog, click here).

NZ aircraft manufacturer pleads guilty to breaching UN sanctions on N Korea

Engine Blade.jpgPacific Aerospace Ltd, an aircraft manufacturing company based in Hamilton, New Zealand, has pleaded guilty in a New Zealand court to indirectly exporting aircraft parts to North Korea and is expected to be sentenced in January. Charges had been brought against the company by the New Zealand Customs Service in August 2017, see here.

OFSI reminder to report frozen assets

OFSI1The UK’s Office of Financial Sanctions Implementation (OFSI) has issued a reminder that all persons who hold or control funds or economic resources belonging to, owned, held, or controlled by a designated person, must submit a report to OFSI with the details of those assets by Friday 13 October 2017.

The report should include details of all funds or economic resources frozen in the UK at close of business on 29 September 2017, as well as those held overseas where they are subject to UK sanctions.

All completed reports should be emailed to ofsi@hmtreasury.gsi.gov.uk using the template found here. For more information, see the OFSI Notice here.

EU sanctions increased on N Korea in line with latest UN Security Council resolution

EU1.jpgThe EU, in adopting Council Regulation (EU) 2017/1836, has strengthened its restrictive measures against the DPRK by transposing the sectoral sanctions imposed by UN Security Council resolution 2375 (2017). That resolution was adopted on 11 September 2017 in response to the DPRK’s ongoing nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles-development activities, in violation of previous UN Security Council resolutions.

The measures introduced by UNSC resolution 2375 (2017) include a ban on the sale of natural gas liquids to the DPRK, and on the importation of its textiles. The new measures also include limitations on the sale of refined petroleum products and crude oil to the DPRK. In addition, member states shall not be permitted to provide new work authorisations to DPRK nationals to enter and work in their territory. The exemptions provided by the UN Security Council for humanitarian and livelihood purposes have also been transposed.

Further, as agreed by EU foreign ministers in Tallinn on 7 September, the Council is currently working on possible additional EU autonomous measures to complement and reinforce the UN Security Council sanctions.

For the Council’s full press release, click here.

Visa suspensions between Turkey and US

Turkey-USA BreakupOn 8 October, the US announced that it had suspended the processing of all non-immigrant visa applications in Turkey due to “recent events”, which appears to be linked to the arrest last week of a US embassy employee in Istanbul. Turkey responded the following day with a matching statement, suspending the processing of all non-immigrant visa applications in its embassy and consulate in the US.

US revokes Sudan sanctions

Sudan 1On 6 October, the US decided to revoke long-standing economic sanctions against Sudan, in recognition of its progress towards maintaining a cessation of hostilities in Sudanese conflict areas, improving humanitarian access throughout Sudan, and maintaining cooperation with the US on addressing regional conflicts and the threat of terrorism. Although not a condition for revoking the sanctions, the US also secured a commitment from Sudan not to pursue arms deals with North Korea. The revocation is set to take effect on 12 October 2017.

Sudan, however, will continue to remain on the US list of State Sponsors of Terrorism – alongside Iran and Syria – which carries, among other things, a ban on weapon sales and restrictions on US foreign assistance.

The US State Department has issued a press statement and a report with respect to this revocation of sanctions. OFAC has also published frequently asked questions, as well as a new general licence authorising certain transactions.

OFSI Publishes Quick Guide to Financial Sanctions

The UK’s Office of Financial Sanctions Implementation (OFSI) has published a quick guide to assist with the understanding of and compliance with financial sanctions. Among other things, the guide covers:

  • What are financial sanctions and why they exist
  • When and how to comply with financial sanctions
  • Where to find further information and guidance

For the quick guide, click here.