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.

EU implements UN arms embargo on South Sudan

EU4On 13 July 2018, the UN Security Council adopted UNSC Resolution 2428 (2018), which (inter alia) imposed an arms embargo on South Sudan until 31 May 2019 and designated two “high-ranking” individuals (Malek Reuben Riak Rengu and Paul Malong Awan) for targeted measures (previous blog).

Earlier this week (13 August), the EU implemented those UN sanctions on South Sudan. See Council Decision (CFSP) 2018/1125, Council Implementing Regulation (EU) 2018/1115, Council Regulation (EU) 2018/1116 and EU press release.

US sanctions 44 Chinese entities over national security threat

China-US.jpgLast week, the US Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) added 44 Chinese entities (8 entities and 36 subordinate institutions) to the Entity List for “acting contrary to the national security or foreign policy interests of the United States”. Some were specifically listed for their involvement in the “illicit procurement of [US-origin] commodities and technologies for unauthorized military end-use in China”.

For all 44 entities, BIS has imposed a licence requirement for all items subject to the Export Administration Regulations, and a licence review policy of presumption of denial. The licence requirements apply to any transaction in which items are to be exported, re-exported or transferred (in-country) to any of the 44 entities or in which such entities act as purchaser, intermediate consignee, ultimate consignee, or end-user. In addition, no licence exceptions will be available for exports, re-exports or transfers (in-country) to the entities. See Final Rule in the US Federal Register (contains the list of the 44 Chinese entities).

Saudi Arabia sanctions Canada over human rights criticism

Canada - Saudi Arabia.jpgLast week (2 August 2018), Canada’s Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland tweeted her support for, and called for the release of, a prominent Saudi Arabian human rights activist, Samar Badawi, who was recently detained by the Gulf state (she has family links in Canada). In response to Ms Freeland’s remarks, Saudi Arabia has:

  • Begun selling its Canadian assets;
  • Expelled the Canadian Ambassador Dennis Horak (see Canadian response);
  • Frozen new trade and investment with Canada;
  • Suspended a student exchange programme to Canada;
  • Suspended all flights by state-owned Saudi Arabian Airlines to Canada;
  • Suspended all medical treatment programmes in Canada, and will be transferring all Saudi Arabian patients out of the country.

Yesterday, Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir said that new investment in Canada would continue to be on hold until the crisis had been resolved, but added that existing trade and investment would not be affected.

UN removes another Iraqi entity from sanctions list

UN2The UN Security Council has removed the ‘Directorate General of Geological Survey and Mineral Investigation’ from its Iraq sanctions list. As a result, it will no longer be subject to UN asset freezing measures. See UN press release and UK OFSI Notice.

This is the ninth entity to be delisted from the UN’s Iraq sanctions since June 2018 (see our previous blogs).

New US Executive Order reimposing Iran sanctions

Trump5.jpg

In light of the US decision to cease participation in the JCPOA and to reimpose all nuclear-related sanctions lifted or waived in connection with the deal, President Donald Trump has issued today a new Executive Order reimposing certain sanctions on Iran.

On 7 August 2018, sanctions will be reimposed on:

  • The purchase or acquisition of US bank notes by the Government of Iran.
  • Iran’s trade in gold and other precious metals.
  • Graphite, aluminium, steel, coal, and software used in industrial processes.
  • Transactions related to the Iranian rial.
  • Activities relating to Iran’s issuance of sovereign debt.
  • Iran’s automotive sector.

On 5 November 2018, the remaining sanctions will be reimposed, including sanctions on:

  • Iran’s port operators and energy, shipping, and shipbuilding sectors.
  • Iran’s petroleum-related transactions.
  • Transactions by foreign financial institutions with the Central Bank of Iran.

The US Administration will also relist hundreds of individuals, entities, vessels, and aircraft that were previously included on sanctions lists. See Statement from the President, Text of a Letter from the President, and White House Fact Sheet. The Fact Sheet states that the “Trump Administration intends to fully enforce the sanctions reimposed against Iran, and those who fail to wind down activities with Iran risk severe consequences”.

In addition, OFAC has published new FAQs relating to today’s Executive Order and updated existing FAQs. See OFAC Notice.

Turkey responds to US measures

Turkey-US2.jpgWe reported last week that the US had added Turkey’s Minister of Justice Abdulhamit Gul and Minister of Interior Suleyman Soylu to its Global Magnitsky sanctions list (Executive Order 13818) over the “leading roles” they played in the arrest and detention of US Pastor Andrew Brunson.

In response, Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced on 4 August that he would instruct his officials to freeze any Turkish assets of US Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke. Secretary Zinke is responsible for managing the US’s natural resources and cultural heritage.

OFAC sanctions Russian bank and other facilitators of North Korean sanctions violations

OFAC2Today, OFAC has sanctioned Russian-registered bank Agrosoyuz Commercial Bank, pursuant to Executive Order 13810, for “knowingly facilitating a significant transaction on behalf of an individual designated for weapons of mass destruction-related activities in connection with North Korea”.

OFAC has also sanctioned a Moscow-based individual, Ri Jong Won, and two entities, Dandong Zhongsheng Industry & Trade Co Ltd and Korea Ungum Corporation, for “facilitating North Korean illicit financial activity”. See OFAC Notice and Treasury press release.

Standard Chartered agrees to 5-month extension of US DPA

Standard Chartered.jpgLast week (27 July), Standard Chartered announced that it has agreed to a further extension of its US Deferred Prosecution Agreement (DPA) until 31 December 2018.

The bank entered into the DPA with the US Department of Justice and the New York County District Attorney’s Office in December 2012 over breaches of sanctions against Iran and other countries.

In the announcement, the bank states that it has “taken a number of steps and made significant progress toward compliance with the requirements of the DPA and enhancing its sanctions compliance programme, but that the programme has not yet reached the standard required by the DPA”. Furthermore, that the bank will continue to cooperate with an ongoing US sanctions-related investigation, namely, whether it had continued to breach sanctions by processing US dollar transactions for Iranian entities even after the DPA was signed in 2012.