Yesterday, OFAC designated Syrian national Nasif Barakat and the Syria-based Barakat Transnational Criminal Organisation (TCO) pursuant to Executive Order 13581 (asset freezes imposed). The Barakat TCO is said to be a “human smuggling organisation… that facilitates the smuggling of Syrian and Lebanese nationals to the United States border”. Mr Barakat was designated for being the organisation’s “leader”. OFAC Notice here, and US Treasury press release here. These are not chemical weapons-related designations.
Belgian authorities have announced that 3 Flemish companies – AAE Chemie (Belgian chemical group), Anex Customs and Danmar Logistics (2 handling companies) – are being prosecuted for the unlicensed export of chemicals to Syria.
It is alleged that between May 2014 and December 2016, the 3 companies had shipped 24 deliveries to Syria (without an export licence), containing 168 tonnes of isopropanol, 219 tonnes of acetone, 77 tonnes of methanol, and 21 tonnes of dichloromethane. The trial is set to commence in Antwerp on 15 May 2018.
At a meeting in Luxembourg on Monday, EU Foreign Ministers did not agree new sanctions against Iran over its ballistic missile programme and role in Syria, which had been considered to try to ensure that the US continues its commitment to the JCPOA.
The EU failed to agree new measures on Syria over its alleged chemical weapons attacks. Last week the EU issued a press release condemning the “repeated use of chemical weapons by the Syrian regime”, stating that it had sanctioned a number of Syrian high-level officials and scientists in July 2017 and March 2018 for “their role in the development and use of chemical weapons”, and that it was “always ready to consider imposing further measures as appropriate”.
There were announcements last weekend that the US would impose further sanctions this week on Russians said to have assisted Syria with chemical weapons (see eg 15 April 2018 statement by the US ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley). However, yesterday (16 April) the White House press briefing said new measures were currently being evaluated, but that there was “nothing to announce right now” and reports suggest that President Trump has told national security advisers that he is uncomfortable imposing the planned new sanctions without another “triggering event” by Russia.
Today, OFAC has designated a number of Russian individuals and entities (asset freezes and travel bans imposed) on the basis that they have been involved in a range of “malign activity around the globe”. The designations include:
- 7 Russian oligarchs – Vladimir Bogdanov, Oleg Deripaska, Suleiman Kerimov, Igor Rotenberg, Kirill Shamalov, Andrei Skoch, and Viktor Vekselberg – as well as 12 companies owned or controlled by them;
- 17 Russian government officials; and
- The Russian state-owned weapons trading company Rosoboroneksport, and its Russian subsidiary bank, Russian Financial Corporation Bank (Russia-Syria related designations).
The Russian oligarchs and government officials sanctioned today follow the US Treasury’s CAATSA Section 241 Report, issued in late January 2018 (see previous blog here). That Report identified 114 “senior foreign political figures” and 96 “oligarchs” in the Russian Federation (determined by their “closeness to the Russian regime and their net worth”).
Non-US persons may be liable for knowingly facilitating “significant transactions” for or on behalf of the individuals and entities sanctioned today.
OFAC has also issued 2 general licences to “minimize immediate disruptions to U.S. persons, partners, and allies”, see General Licences 12 and 13, as well as related FAQs. Links to the OFAC Notice and US Treasury press release.
Last week, a US couple (Anni Beurklian and Antoine Ajaka), their company (Top Tech US Inc.), and a Syrian national (Amir Katranji) were indicted in a federal court in Boston for (inter alia) conspiracy to violate US export laws and regulations. In particular, for being involved in a scheme to smuggle goods out of the US and to supply services to Syria. Following plea negotiations in January 2018, Ms. Beurklian and Mr. Ajaka are alleged to have fled the US to avoid prosecution, and have yet to return. US Department of Justice press release here.
The EU has added 4 people to its Syria sanctions list for “their role in the development and use of chemical weapons against the civilian population”.
The individuals include a high-ranking military official, Yusuf Ajeeb, and 3 scientists working at the Scientific Studies and Research Centre (SSRC), Maher Sulaiman, Salam Tohme and Zuhair Fadhlun. SSCR is the government entity responsible for “developing and producing non-conventional weapons, including chemical weapons, and the missiles to deliver them” (it has been subject to EU sanctions since 1 December 2011). See Council Implementing Decision (CFSP) 2018/421 and Council Implementing Regulation (EU) 2018/420. EU press release here, EU Notice here and UK OFSI Notice here.
Today, the EU has sanctioned 2 Ministers of the Syrian Government “for being responsible for the violent repression against the civilian population in Syria, benefiting from or supporting the regime, and/or being associated with such persons” (travel bans and asset freezes imposed). The individuals are Mohamed Mazen Ali Yousef, Minister of Industry, and Imad Abdullah Sara, Minister of Information. See Council Implementing Decision (CFSP) 2018/284 and Council Implementing Regulation (EU) 2018/282. Those legal acts also update the information relating to 5 previously sanctioned individuals. EU press release here and UK OFSI Notice here.
In a separate action, the EU has added a French national, Fabien Clain, to its ISIL (Da’esh) and Al-Qaeda sanctions list (asset freeze imposed). See Council Decision (CFSP) 2018/283 and Council Implementing Regulation (EU) 2018/281. UK OFSI Notice here.