Recent news from Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control: December 8

Reminder

  • OFAC FTP Retirement Reminder: The Office of Foreign Assets Control reminds users of its FTP server that OFAC is retiring its public-facing file transfer protocol (FTP) server (ofacftp.treas.gov) on or about June 10, 2024. OFAC will maintain the FTP server for six months to allow users sufficient time to develop automation that utilizes the list content hosted on the agency’s website. For questions or technical support regarding this action, email OFAC at [email protected]. Read more.

Enforcement Action

  • OFAC Announces Settlement with Nasdaq for Apparent Violations of Iran Sanctions: OFAC on Dec. 8 announced a settlement with Nasdaq, Inc. Nasdaq agreed to remit $4,040,923 to settle its potential civil liability for a former wholly owned foreign subsidiary’s apparent violations of sanctions on Iran. Nasdaq OMX Armenia processed trades and settled payments through the ASE platform involving the OFAC-designated Armenian subsidiary of Iran’s state-owned Bank Mellat. This former subsidiary engaged in the exportation of services to Iran and the Government of Iran, thereby committing 151 apparent violations of OFAC sanctions on Iran. The settlement amount reflects OFAC’s determination that Nasdaq’s conduct was non-egregious and voluntarily self-disclosed. Read more.

The Office of Foreign Assets Control took a number of significant sanctions actions over the last week across multiple programs:

Russia-related Sanctions

  • U.S. and U.K. Sanction Members of Russian State Intelligence-Sponsored Advanced Persistent Threat Group: OFAC, in coordination with its United Kingdom counterpart, designated two individuals associated with an advanced persistent threat (APT) group that is sponsored by the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) and has targeted individuals and entities in the United States, United Kingdom, and other allied and partner countries. The Kremlin uses the FSB, one of its intelligence and law enforcement agencies, to advance the Kremlin’s interests and to try to undermine the interests of the United States and its allies. Beginning in 2016, FSB-sponsored spear phishing campaigns have focused their targeting on the webmail accounts of entities associated with government, military, private organizations and news media across the globe. OFAC designated two individuals associated with these spear phishing activities: Ruslan Aleksandrovich Peretyatko, an FSB officer, and Andrey Stanislavovich Korinets, an IT worker in Syktyvkar, Russia. The U.S. Department of State’s Rewards for Justice program is seeking information leading to the location or identification of Peretyatko and Korinets. Read more.
  • Related to this action, the U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency has published an advisory and an alert related to the malicious cyber activities with which Peretyatko and Korinets are associated. Read the advisory.
  • OFAC Targets Russian Defense Procurement Network: OFAC on Dec. 5 targeted a network led by Belgium-based Hans De Geetere that is involved in procuring electronics with military applications for Russian end-users. The OFAC-designated network consists of nine entities and five individuals based in Russia, Belgium, Cyprus, Sweden, Hong Kong, and the Netherlands. Concurrent with OFAC’s action, the U.S. Department of Justice unsealed two separate indictments against Hans De Geetere related to his years-long scheme to unlawfully export sensitive, military-grade technology from the United States to end users located in the People’s Republic of China and the Russian Federation. The U.S. Department of Commerce is also concurrently adding Hans De Geetere and five entities to the Bureau of Industry and Security Entity List. Read more.

Belarus-related Sanctions

  • OFAC Targets Belarusian Revenue Generators for Lukashenka, Human Rights Abuses: OFAC on Dec. 5 designated 11 entities and seven individuals pursuant to Executive Order 14038, Blocking Property of Additional Persons Contributing to the Situation in Belarus and one individual pursuant to E.O. 14024, Blocking Property With Respect To Specified Harmful Foreign Activities of the Government of the Russian Federation. OFAC’s action increases the pressure on Belarusian president, Alyaksandr Lukashenka’s authoritarian regime for its brutal suppression of Belarus’s democratic civil society, corrupt financial enrichment of the Lukashenka family, and complicity in Russia’s unjustified war against Ukraine. Read more.

Sudan-related Sanctions

  • OFAC Targets Individuals for Undermining Peace, Security, and Stability in Sudan: OFAC on Dec. 4 designated several former government officials for their roles in undermining the peace, security, and stability of Sudan. OFAC’s designations support diplomatic efforts by the international community to end the conflict and demonstrate the U.S. commitment to achieve a civilian government and a transition to democracy. The designees are former Sudanese State Minister and Presidential Office Director, Taha Osman Ahmed al-Hussein; former high-ranking Sudanese government official, Salah Abdallah Mohamed Salah; and former Sudanese Ambassador and leader of Sudan’s National Intelligence and Security Service, Mohamed Etta Elmoula Abbas. Read more.
Terrorism-related Sanctions
  • OFAC Sanctions Individuals and Entities Supporting Houthis: OFAC on Dec. 7 sanctioned 13 individuals and entities responsible for providing tens of millions of dollars’ worth of foreign currency generated from the sale and shipment of Iranian commodities, to the Houthis in Yemen. Through a complex network of exchange houses and companies in multiple jurisdictions, the designated individuals, under the auspices of U.S.-sanctioned Houthi and Iran-based financial facilitator Sa’id al-Jamal, serve as an important conduit through which Iranian money reaches the country’s militant partners in Yemen. Among the designees include Lebanon-based Hodroj Exchange S.A.R.L. (Hodroj Exchange) and its owner Bilal Hudroj; Türkiye-based jewelry store and money exchanger Pirlant Istanbul Kuyumculuk Ticaret Limited Sirketi, also known as Jawhirah Exchange, and its owner Ahmet Duri; Abu Sumbol General Trading; Davos Exchange and Remittances Company (Khaled Al Athari and Partner) General Partnership (Davos Exchange); Deniz Capital Maritime Inc; Türkiye and Lebanon-based Vanessa Imex Group Ithalat Ihracat Ve Dis Ticaret Limited Sirketi; Russia-based OOO Russtroi-SK; and United Kingdom-based Vanessa Group Limited and Deniz Capital LLP. Read more.
Corruption and Human Rights Abuse Designations 
  • OFAC Sanctions Former Afghan Government Officials: OFAC on Dec. 11 sanctioned two former Afghan government officials — Mir Rahman Rahmani and his son, Ajmal Rahmani — for their extensive roles in transnational corruption. OFAC also sanctioned 44 entities associated with the Rahmanis. The individuals and entities are designated pursuant to Executive Order 13818, which builds upon and implements the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act and targets perpetrators of serious human rights abuse and corruption around the world. Through their companies, the Rahmanis perpetrated a complex procurement corruption scheme resulting in the misappropriation of millions of dollars from U.S. Government-funded contracts that supported Afghan security forces. Concurrently, the Department of State designated Mir Rahman Rahmani, Ajmal Rahmani, and their immediate family members under Section 7031(c) of the annual Department of State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Appropriations Act for involvement in significant corruption as a public official. Read more.
  • Treasury Designates Perpetrators of Human Rights Abuse: In commemoration of the 75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), OFAC on Dec. 8 sanctioned 20 individuals in nine countries for their connection to human rights abuses. Over the past year, OFAC has designated more than 150 individuals and entities across a dozen countries for issues relating to human rights abuse. These designations have leveraged numerous sanctions authorities and have targeted a range of activities that violate or abuse human rights and betray the vision laid out in the UDHR. The designees are individuals involved in human rights abuses in Afghanistan, the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Uganda, Tanzania, Haiti, Iran, Liberia, South Sudan, and China. See identifying information on the designees. Read more.

Illicit drug-related Sanctions

  • OFAC Sanctions New Generation of Violent Drug Trafficking Beltrán Leyva Organization: OFAC on Dec. 6 sanctioned 15 Mexican individuals—several of whom are U.S. fugitives—and two Mexico-based companies linked, directly or indirectly, to the Beltrán Leyva Organization (BLO). The BLO continues to be one of the most powerful drug trafficking organizations in the world and is heavily involved in the transportation and distribution of deadly drugs, including fentanyl, to the United States. It has been one of the largest suppliers of cocaine to the U.S. market for over two decades. Secretary of the Treasury Janet L. Yellen announced the new sanctions during her trip to Mexico City, where she met with Mexican government and private sector counterparts to discuss deepening the strong partnership on countering fentanyl trafficking and other priorities in countering illicit finance. Read more.
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