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.

UN Security Council threatens new sanctions on N Korea

The UN Security Council has condemned North Korea’s most recent ballistic missile test, and threatened to “take further significant measures including sanctions”.  In a statement, the Security Council demanded that North Korea fully comply with its obligations under the relevant UN resolutions, including immediately terminating its illegal ballistic missile and nuclear activities.

Canada sanctions 27 top Syrian officials

Canada has sanctioned 27 of Syria’s top government officials, in an effort to increase pressure on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to end the violence against civilians in his country. The new sanctions, which follow a lethal chemical weapons attack on civilians in Syria’s Idlib province earlier this month, impose an asset freeze on the 27 officials and prohibit people and entities from dealing with them. The Canadian government’s press release is here.

USA – Zimbabwe de-listing & CAR designations

Zimbabwe

OFAC has removed Zimbabwe’s former Minister of Water Resources Munacho Mutezo from its SDN List. Mr Mutezo’s removal follows his expulsion from the ZANU-PF party for supporting Joice Mujuru, former Vice-President who was expelled following accusations that he tried to depose President Mugabe. The circumstances of Mr Mutezo’s de-listing are similar those of Sylvester Nguni in November 2016, another former ZANU-PF member who, like Mr Mutezo, joined the opposition party Zimbabwe People First after his explusion from ZANU-PF (see previous blog).

Central African Republic

OFAC has designated Abdoulaya Hissene and Maxime Mokom under its CAR sanctions for engaging in actions that threaten the peace, security, or stability of the CAR. They are both said to have been involved in failed coup attempts, preventing people from voting, and lethal violence involving civilians and security forces.

G7 rejects UK’s call for new sanctions on Russia and Syria

G7 foreign ministers have rejected UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson’s call for sanctions on Syrian and Russian military figures responsible for coordinating Syrian military efforts (see previous blog). Italian foreign minister Angelino Alfano said that there was no consensus for imposing the new sanctions, and the group concluded that an investigation into the attack was necessary before taking any such action.

UK Foreign Secretary to discuss new Russia sanctions with G7 ministers

UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson has said that G7 foreign ministers, meeting this week, would discuss the possibility of imposing further sanctions on some of the Syrian and Russian military figures responsible for co-ordinating Syrian military efforts. Speaking on his arrival in Italy for the talks, Johnson added that Russia has a choice to stick with the Assad regime or “to work with the rest of the world…to find a political solution for Syria”.

Japan renews its sanctions on North Korea

Japan has decided to renew its unilateral sanctions on North Korea for a further 2 years.  The sanctions ban all trade between Japan and North Korea, and ban North Korean ships from docking at Japanese ports. The EU expanded the scope of its sanctions on North Korea earlier this week (see previous blog).

OFAC de-lists 2 for no longer being associated with PacNet

OFAC has removed 2 people from its SDN List for no longer being associated with the Canadian company PacNet, which was designated in September last year for alleged money laundering offences (see previous blog).  Siobhan Hanrahan and Donna MacBain, from Ireland and the UK respectively, were said by a Treasury spokesman to be “no longer employed” by PacNet, and therefore they no longer meet the criteria for designation.  The Treasury de-listed 2 other Irish citizens who had been listed for their association with PacNet, Brian Weekes and Estelle Snyman, in February. The details are here.

EU to expand sanctions on DPRK

The EU has decided to expand its nuclear-proliferation sanctions on North Korea, in response to its apparent violations of UN resolutions and the threat it poses to international peace and security.  The new sanctions expand existing prohibitions on investment to new sectors, namely conventional arms, metallurgy, and aerospace.  They also prohibit the provision of computer services and services linked to mining and manufacturing in the chemical, mining, and refining industry to people and entities in North Korea.

In addition, the Council has added 4 more people to its sanctions listings on North Korea, for being responsible for supporting or promoting North Korea’s nuclear, ballistic missile, or other WMD-related programmes.  They are Ri Myong Su, So Hong Chan, Wang Chang Uk, and Jang Chol. This brings the total number of listed people to 41, in addition to 7 entities.  See Regulation 2017/658 amending Regulation 329/2007, and Decision 2017/666 and Decision 2017/667 amending Decision 2016/849.