Enforcement

The Commerce Department’s Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) added two entities to the Entity List under seven entries for activities contrary to U.S. national security and foreign policy interests monday. One entity was found to have been involved in supporting online censorship and surveillance to target political actors and human rights activities in Egypt, and the other is being added for diversion of U.S. items to a Chinese Entity Listed party. 

A member of the Yakuza crime syndicate was indicted Feb. 21 for trafficking nuclear materials, including weapons-grade plutonium, from Burma.  The scheme was uncovered during a DEA investigation into narcotics and firearms trafficking. The Justice Department announced the issuance of a Superseding Indictment charging TAKESHI EBISAWA with conspiring with a network of associates to traffic nuclear materials from Burma to other countries.  

The Justice Department unsealed of an Indictment charging sanctioned Russian oligarch and the President and Chairman of a Russian state-owned VTB bank, Andrey Kostin, with participating in two separate schemes that violated U.S. sanctions. The first scheme was to operate, maintain, and improve  two superyachts, collectively worth over $135 million, while the second scheme was related to the operation and transfer of Mr. Kostin's home in Aspen, Colorado.

Nearly $500,000 of forfeited proceeds of an illicit machine tool sale to Russian buyers will be used to support a drone-based program to assess the damage Russian aggression has done to Ukraine’s electrical distribution and transmission infrastructure. Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco and Estonian Secretary General Tõnis Saar announced  the transfer at the Munich Security Conference Saturday Feb 17.

Marking the one-year anniversary of the Disruptive Technology Strike Force, the Departments of Justice and Commerce released a joint fact sheet touting their accomplishments. The Task force initiated 14 cases involving alleged sanctions and export control violations, smuggling conspiracies, and other offenses related to the unlawful transfer of sensitive information, goods, and military-grade technology to Russia, China, or Iran. These cases were brought through the work of U.S. Attorneys’ Offices throughout the country and the Counterintelligence and Export Control Section in Justice Department’s National Security Division.

February 15, the DOJ unsealed charges against Mauricio Gomez Baez, former Senior Vice President of Stericycle LATAM Between 2011 and 2016, Mr. Gomez Baez, a Mexican citizen and resident of Miami conspired with other Stericycle employees and agents to pay approximately $10.5 million in bribes to Mexican, Brazilian, and Argentinian government officials in order to obtain government contracts for medical waste collection for Stericycle.

A Jamaica, NY freight forwarder settled with the Bureau of Industry and Security for facilitating the export of enterprise servers and switches from the US to Iran without the required US government authorization. The settlement calls for a two-year suspended denial of its export privileges, thereafter waived, provided no futher violations and completion of compliance training.

Deputy Attorney General Lisa O. Monaco delivered remarks on "the Promise and Peril of AI," at Oxford University February 14, calling  an "inflection point with AI," Claiming that "AI is the ultimate disruptive technology," she vowed that the Distruptive Technology Strike Force established last year to coordinate export control activities, will place AI at the "very top" of its enforcement priority list.

A Montreal woman pleaded guilty to money laundering conspiracy for her role in a multimillion-dollar scheme to send components used in unnamed aerial vehicles (UAVs) and guided missile systems and other weapons to sanctioned entities in Russia.  Last October, a criminal complaint was unsealed, and a Brooklyn, New York, resident and two Canadian nationals were arrested in connection with a global procurement scheme in which the defendants used two corporate entities registered in Brooklyn to unlawfully source and purchase dual-use electronics on behalf of end-users in Russia, including companies affiliated with the Russian military.

A 747 Boeing Freighter was flown to Miami from Buenos Aires by U.S. Marshalls in the latest chapter of the Mahan Air Saga.  Mahan, a sanctioned Iranian airline is affiliated with the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corp-Qods Force (IRGC-QF), a designated Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO). On Oct. 20, 2022, in support of its ongoing criminal investigation, the United States filed a civil forfeiture complaint alleging that the aircraft’s transfer from Mahan Air to Empresa de Transporte Aéreocargo del Sur, S.A. (EMTRASUR), a Venezuelan cargo airline and subsidiary of a Venezuelan state-owned company, violated U.S. export control laws.

On Feb. 7 and 8, the Justice Department's National Security Division hosted a summit in Phoenix, Arizona, to commemorate the one-year anniversary of the launch of its Disruptive Technology Strike Force - an interagency law enforcement effort aimed at preventing critical technologies from being acquired by authoritarian regimes and hostile nation-states. The two-day event began with a law enforcement-only day focused on case studies, best investigative practices, briefings on cutting-edge technologies, and one-year reports from all 15 of the local cells. On the second day, the Strike Force was joined by private sector and academia representatives from across the country for sessions describing the work of the Strike Force across multiple subject areas, corporate compliance, best practices for building trade compliance programs, and law enforcement outreach efforts.

In two separate cases out of U.S. Attorneys’ Offices on opposite coasts, several individuals are charged – one of whom was arrested yesterday – in connection with sophisticated schemes to transfer sensitive technology, goods, and information for the benefit of hostile foreign adversaries, in violation of U.S. law. In the Eastern District of New York, a fugitive father and son team of Iranian nationals are charged with conspiring to export equipment used in the aerospace industry to the Government of Iran, in violation of the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA), in connection with an alleged conspiracy to illegally export U.S. goods and technology without the required licenses. In the Central District of California, a naturalized chinese was arrested for allegedly stealing trade secrets developed for use by the U.S. government to detect nuclear missile launches and track ballistic and hypersonic missiles.

A Bipartisan group of Senators has penned a letter to Andrea Gacki, Director of the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), expressing serious concerns about the delay in implementing the Anti-Money Laundering (AML) Whistleblower Improvement Act. Senators Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Elizabeth Warren (D-CA), and Raphael Warnock (D-GA) wrote noting the Act, passed passed over three years ago as part of the Corporate Transparency Act and later strengthened in 2022, aimed to incentivize whistleblowers to report sanctions violations and combat money laundering effectively.

A citizen of the United States and the Republic of Taiwan, residing in Taiwan, pleaded guilty January 31 to a federal conspiracy charge, related to the export of defense materials to Iran 20 years ago. The defendant had remained a fugitive until his arrest on April 10, 2023, at Rome-Fiumicino International Airport in Italy and subsequent extradition to the United States.

The Justice Department announced the unsealing of three federal cases, across two U.S. Attorneys’ Offices, as the most recent in a series of efforts to combat the illicit trafficking of Iranian oil that funds Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), and its Qods Force (IRGC-QF), Iran’s primary mechanism for cultivating and providing lethal support to terrorist organizations abroad Seven defendants are charged in the Southern district of New York, along with the seizure of $108 million. Two more defendants were named in a case filed in the District of Columbia, along with a forfeiture complaint for 500,000 barrels of oil in transit.

Four Chinese nationals are charged in an indictment in the District of Columbia with various federal crimes related to a years-long conspiracy to unlawfully export and smuggle U.S.-origin electronic components from the United States to Iran.

A British man was sentenced to 18 months in prison for attempting to export  an Industrial Microwave System (IMS) and counter-drone system from the United States to Iran, without first obtaining the requisite license from the Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC). Saber Fakih was arrested in the United Kingdom pursuant to a U.S. Extradition Request on or about February 10, 2021. On January 25, 2022, he entered a plea of guilty to count two of the indictment in U.S. District Court in the District of Columbia. In addition to the prison term, Saber Fakih was ordered to serve three years of supervised release.

In a federal court in Brooklyn, Gyanendra Asre pleaded guilty to failing to maintain an anti-money laundering program in violation of the Bank Secrecy Act, as part of a scheme to bring lucrative and high-risk international financial business to a small, unsophisticated credit union. When sentenced, Asre faces up to 10 years in prison. In a parallel action, Treasury's Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) assessed a civil money penalty of $100,000 and a five year ban from AML supervisory employment.

Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) imposed a civil penalty of $153,175 against Wabtec Corporation, a global manufacturer and supplier of rail technology headquartered in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, to resolve 43 violations of the antiboycott provisions of the Export Administration Regulations (EAR) (antiboycott regulations) alleged in BIS’s Proposed Charging Letter. Wabtec voluntarily disclosed the conduct to BIS, cooperated with the investigation by BIS’s Office of Antiboycott Compliance (OAC), and took remedial measures after discovering the conduct at issue, which resulted in a significant reduction in the penalty.

Rewards for Justice is offering a reward of up to $15 million for information leading to the disruption of financial mechanisms of the U.S.-designated terrorist organization Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). Hossein Hatefi Ardakani is Iranian businessman who has helped acquire and supply sophisticated technology that has supported IRGC weapons production and sales. U.S.-origin flight guidance components procured by the Ardakani network have been identified in recovered wreckage of Shahed drones in Ukraine and other conflict zones.

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