Yesterday (20 December), US President Donald Trump signed into law the Nicaragua Human Rights and Anticorruption Act of 2018, which instructs the US to oppose international loans to the Nicaraguan government, unless they are sought for the purposes of addressing basic human needs or promoting democracy in Nicaragua. The Act also imposes targeted sanctions (asset freezes and travel bans) on any foreign person, including any current or former Nicaraguan government official, determined to be responsible for (inter alia) serious human rights violations and corruption. See Statement by President Trump.
Last month, pursuant to a new Nicaragua-related Executive Order, OFAC sanctioned 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) for their roles in serious human rights abuses and corruption (see previous blog).
Yesterday (20 December), the UN Security Council added 3 individuals to its Mali sanctions list: Ahmoudou Ag Asriw, Mahamadou Ag Rhissa, and Mohamed Ousmane Ag Mohamedoune (travel bans only). These are the first designations to have been made under the UN’s Mali sanctions. See UN Press Release.
Missouri-based holding company Zoltek Companies Inc, which owns US-based Zoltek Corporation and Hungary-based Zoltek Vegyipari ZRT, has agreed to pay $7,772,102 to OFAC for violating US sanctions on Belarus. Specifically, between January 2012 and October 2015, Zoltek Corporation approved 26 purchases of acrylonitrile, a chemical used in the production of carbon fibre, between Zoltek Vegyipari ZRT and JSC Naftan, a Belarusian entity which OFAC designated in August 2011 pursuant to Executive Order 13405. See OFAC Notice and Enforcement Information.
Yesterday (19 December), OFAC sanctioned 18 Russian nationals and 4 Russia-based entities in response to “Russia’s continued disregard for international norms”:
(i) Victor Alekseyevich Boyarkin, a former officer of Russia’s Main Intelligence Directorate (GRU), was designated pursuant to Executive Orders (EO) 13661 and 13662 (asset freeze and travel ban) for acting on behalf of sanctioned oligarch Oleg Deripaska.
(ii) Alexander Aleksandrovich Malkevich and Elena Alekseevna Khusyaynova, as well as the entities Nevskiy News LLC, Economy Today LLC, Federal News Agency LLC and USA Really were designated pursuant to EO 13694 (asset freeze and travel ban) for being linked to Project Lakhta– a broad Russian effort that includes the previously designated Internet Research Agency (IRA), which has sought to “interfere in political and electoral systems worldwide”.
(iii) 15 members of the GRU were designated under Section 224 of CAATSA (asset freeze and travel ban) for their “involvement in a wide range of malign activity”, including attempting to interfere in the 2016 US election, efforts to undermine international organisations (e.g. WADA and OPCW) through cyber-enabled means, and carrying out the Novichok assassination attempt against the Skripals in Salisbury, UK. See OFAC Notice and US Treasury Press Release.
The US Department of State has also added 12 individuals and entities from the present OFAC action to the List of Specified Persons under Section 231 of CAATSA for being part of, or operating for or on behalf of, the intelligence sector of the Russian government. As a result, any person who knowingly engages in a significant transaction with any of these 12 individuals and entities will be subject to CAATSA Section 231 sanctions. See State Department Press Release.
In December 2017, US President Donald Trump issued Executive Order (EO) 13818, which imposes asset freezes and travel bans on persons responsible for serious human rights abuses or corrupt acts anywhere in the world. The EO implements the provisions of the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act.
Yesterday (18 December), President Trump continued for 1 year the sanctions contained within EO 13818. See White House Press Release.
OFAC has added 3 individuals and 6 entities to its South Sudan sanctions list, pursuant to Executive Order 13664 (asset freeze and travel ban).
Israel Ziv and Obac William Olawo were designated for being “leaders of entities whose actions have the purpose or effect of expanding or extending the conflict in South Sudan”. Those designated entities are: Global N.T.M Ltd (Israel-based); Global Law Enforcement and Security Ltd (Israel-based); Global IZ Group Ltd (Israel-based); Golden Wings Aviation (South Sudan-based); Crown Auto Trade (South Sudan-based); and Africana General Trading Ltd (South Sudan-based). The third sanctioned individual, Gregory Vasili Dimitry, was designated for “actions that have undermined peace, stability, and security in South Sudan”. See OFAC Notice and US Treasury Press Release.
4 South Koreans have been charged in South Korea with importing around £4.55million worth of coal and pig iron from North Korea in violation of UN sanctions. The sanctions prohibiting North Korean exports of coal, iron, and lead were introduced in August last year (see previous blog).
Prosecutors in South Korea allege that forged certificates of origin from Russian ports were used to give the impression that the commodities came from Russia, before being shipped on.
OFAC has announced a $2,774,972 settlement with Chinese company Yantai Jereh Oilfield Service Group Ltd and its affiliated companies (the “Jereh Group”) for violating US sanctions on Iran. Yantai is a provider of oil field services and manufacturer of related equipment.
Between around 2 October 2014 and 4 March 2016, on at least 11 occasions Jereh Group is said to have (re)exported or attempted to (re)export US-origin goods ultimately intended for Iran, by way of China. Similarly, it is also said to have exported certain US-origin items for use in the production of goods in China, with reason to know that the goods were ultimately destined for Iran.
In its press release, OFAC reports that, beginning in late 2013, a former Jereh Group Sales Executive and a former Business management arranged meetings with Iranian customers and developed a scheme utilising intermediary companies in China and the UAE to sell and ship goods, many of which relied upon US-origin items, to Iran. In addition, it says that an external review of Jereh Group’s compliance programme in 2015-16 noted that its controls were “largely non-existent and, when in place, were ineffective and easily circumvented”, adding that “the circumvention could and did go undetected”. According to OFAC, the violations did not cease until the US Bureau of Industry and Security sanctioned several Jereh Group companies and related individuals in March 2016.
OFAC found that Jereh Group had not voluntarily disclosed the violations, and that they constituted an egregious case. The base penalty amount was $3,083,302.