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Financial Services Law Insights and Observations

Italian company settles with OFAC for violating Iranian Transactions and Sanctions Regulations

Financial Crimes OFAC Department of Treasury Sanctions OFAC Designations Enforcement Settlement Iran Of Interest to Non-US Persons

Financial Crimes

On March 26, the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) announced a $950,000 settlement to resolve alleged violations of the Iranian Transactions and Sanctions Regulations with an Italian company that produces and reexports air pressure switches. According to OFAC’s accompanying web notice, between 2013 and 2017, the company allegedly “knowingly reexported 27 shipments of air pressure switches procured from a U.S. company intended for as many as ten customers in Iran and caused a U.S. company to indirectly export its goods to Iran.” OFAC also alleged that the company engaged in efforts to obfuscate its reexportation of goods from the U.S. to Iranian end-users by, among other things, having employees use deceptive replacement terms for Iran in communications with the U.S company in order to avoid referencing Iranian end-users, and requesting that the term “Made in USA” be removed from the switches to disguise their origin.

In arriving at the settlement amount, OFAC considered various aggravating factors, including that (i) the company willfully reexported air pressure switches even though it knew it was violating U.S. sanctions; (ii) company management “either failed to provide effective oversight of its employees and operations or chose to ignore these prohibited trade practices”; and (iii) the conduct caused over $2.5 million worth of goods to be diverted from the U.S. to Iran.

OFAC also considered various mitigating factors, including that the company (i) has not received a penalty notice from OFAC in the proceeding five years; (ii) ceased the conduct at issue and took remedial measures, including implementing a sanctions compliance program and agreeing to enhanced compliance commitments; and (iii) cooperated with OFAC’s investigation.

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