USA – Iran, ISIL, & Al-Qaida designations

Iran

OFAC has sanctioned the Tehran Prisons Organisation and a senior official within Iran’s State Prison Organisation, Sohrab Soleimani, in connection with alleged serious human rights abuses in Tehran’s Evin Prison. Tehran Prisons Organisation, which Soleimani previously headed up and now oversees in his current role, is allegedly responsible for abuses against political prisoners housed in Evin Prison, including an incident in April 2014 in which several political prisoners are said to have been brutally attacked by prison staff.  In its press release, the US Treasury said that the US would “vigorously exercise its sanctions authorities outside the scope of the JCPOA to counter the Iranian government’s support for terrorism, ballistic missile programme, regional destabilisation, and human rights abuses”.

ISIL & Al-Qaida

Two ISIL financial facilitators in Libya, Ali al-Safrani and Abd Zarqun, and Algerian ISIL supporter Hamma Hamani have been designated by OFAC as Specially Designated Global Terrorists.  Al-Safrani and Abd Zarqun are said to be high-level leaders within ISIL, and Hamani is said to have supported ISIL and trafficked weapons in Libya. The Treasury’s press release is here.

In addition, the US State Department has designated 2 Canadian citizens, Tarek Sakr and Farah Shirdon, as Specially Designated Global Terrorists. Sakr is said to have conducted sniper training in Syria and been linked to Syrian al-Qaida affiliate al-Nusrah Front. Shirdon is allegedly a prominent ISIL fighter and recruiter who has also been involved in fundraising. The State Department’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.

US to introduce new sanctions on Syria

At the end of last week, US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin announced that the US will impose new sanctions on the Syrian government, aimed at preventing its use of chemical weapons.  Mnuchin said that the administration viewed sanctions as “a very important tool”, and that the new sanctions would be introduced in the “near future”. G7 foreign ministers are currently meeting in Italy, where they will discuss imposing new sanctions on Syrian and Russian military officers (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.

OFAC targets DPRK supporters

OFAC has sanctioned 11 North Korean nationals and 1 entity said by the USA to be working as agents of the North Korean regime in Russia, China, Vietnam, and Cuba to provide that regime and other designated entities with financial support or WMD procurement services.  The newly designated people operated in the WMD-related, financial, and mining sectors. OFAC’s press release which explains and lists the targeted people / enties is here.

US renews cyber sanctions

President Trump has renewed US sanctions on people and entities involved in malicious cyber-activities for 1 year, until 1 April 2018.  The sanctions were introduced by President Obama in April 2015 (see previous blog), and were expanded in scope at the end of last year following allegations of Russia’s “aggressive harassment of U.S. officials and cyber operations aimed at the U.S. election” (see previous blog). 6 Russian people and 4 Russian entities are currently designated under these measures.

US designates 7 more people for ties to ISIL

OFAC

OFAC has designated 2 people, Syria-based Muhammad Tamtomo and Syria/Iraq-based Muhammad Jedi, as Specially Designated Global Terrorists for allegedly providing financial and operational support to ISIL.  Specifically, they are said to have supported ISIL recruitment and attack-planning in Indonesia, Malaysia, and elsewhere in Southeast Asia.

OFAC’s press release is here.

State Department

The State Department has designated 5 people as SDGTs for their involvement with ISIL. Among them are British national Anjem Choudary, who was sentenced to imprisonment in September 2016 for acting as a key figure in ISIL’s recruitment drive.

The State Department’s press release is here.

US charges against Mehmet Atilla for sanctions evasion

US prosecutors have charged Mehmet Atilla, an executive at a state-owned Turkish bank, with conspiring to evade US sanctions on Iran.  He is alleged to have conspired with several others, including Turkish businessman Reza Zarrab who was arrested as part of the same investigation in March 2016 (see previous blog) and is due to stand trial in October 2017.  Mr Atilla is said to have worked with Mr Zarrab to conceal transfers of currency and gold to Iran from 2010 to 2015, including through the use of fraudulent documents to make the transactions appear as though they involved food that qualified for a humanitarian exemption to US sanctions. In the US Department of Justice’s press release, Acting US Attorney Joon Kim stated that the transactions “illegally funnelled millions of dollars to Iran”.