#AceNewsReport – Nov.25: Sasse recalled that on July 21, Germany and the U.S. approved a joint statement in which she says a “constructive solution” was found to the issue of Nord Stream 2, Russia’s gas pipeline laid to Germany along the bottom of the Baltic Sea, thus bypassing Ukraine.
#AceDailyNews says the comment came as Spokeswoman for Germany’s Foreign Ministry, Andrea Sasse, at a briefing on Wednesday answered journalists’ questions about the strengthening of U.S. sanctions against the pipeline, an Ukrinform correspondent reports.
The United States earlier added to its Nord Stream 2-related sanctions list another company and a vessel, Transadria Ltd. and Marlin, respectively.
“Since then, we have been working intensively on the implementation of this joint statement and regularly coordinating actions at various levels,” said the diplomat. At the same time, she stopped short of comment on Washington’s latest steps.
The U.S. Department of State stressed that along with the restrictions, the U.S. administration imposed sanctions on a total of eight individuals and 17 vessels under PEESA (Protecting Europe’s Energy Security Act) in the context of the Russian gas pipeline project.
The German Federal Network Agency, which is in the process of certifying the pipe, suspended the procedure on November 16. The German regulator also granted requests applied by Naftogaz of Ukraine and Gas TSO of Ukraine LLC to participate in the Nord Stream 2 certification.
It should be recalled that the construction of Nord Stream 2 was completed in early September 2021.
#AceNewsReport – Oct.23: Ruslan Edelgeriyev, President Vladimir Putin’s climate envoy, accused Western states of double standards for urging Russia “to reduce methane leakages and yet we have Gazprom under sanctions” for the 2014 annexation of Crimea.
“Let’s take climate projects out of sanctions, so that Gazprom has access to green financing, access to technologies,” Bloomberg quoted Edelgeriyev as saying in an interview.
“These two things don’t get along, sanctions and climate,” said Edelgeriyev, who will head Russia’s delegation at the crucial COP26 summit in Glasgow.
The Oct. 31-Nov.12 COP summit, the biggest climate conference since the landmark 2015 Paris talks, is seen as a key step in setting worldwide emissions targets to stem the effects of climate change.
Putin, whose position on climate shifted recently from deep skepticism to engagement amid an increasing spate of natural disasters that have hit Russia and the rest of the world, will not fly to Glasgow for the summit.
But at the annual Valdai Club meeting in Sochi on Thursday, Putin saidRussia’s delegation will “insist” that negotiators at COP take into account Russia’s opportunity to use its vast forests to offset carbon emissions.
The president also echoed Edelgeriyev’s anti-sanctions sentiment when it comes to climate change.
“Geopolitical, scientific and technical, or ideological rivalry becomes pointless if the winners will have not enough air to breathe or nothing to drink,” Putin said.
Russia is one of the world’s biggest oil and gas producers and the fourth-highest carbon emitter. The country’s Arctic regions are warming roughly three times faster than the rest of the planet.
Last week, Putin said that Russia was “aiming” for carbon neutrality by 2060.
Russia’s earlier vow to cut its emissions to 70% of 1990 levels by 2030 is considered easily achievable because of the de-industrialization the country has undergone since the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991.
#AceDailyNews says that Hezbollah-organized fuel arrives in crisis-hit Lebanon: The delivery violates US sanctions imposed on Tehran after former President Donald Trump pulled America out of a nuclear deal between Iran and world powers three years ago according to Arab News source
September 16, 2021 10:44:
A convoy of tanker trucks carrying Iranian diesel has crossed the border from Syria into Lebanon. The delivery was organized by the militant Hezbollah group to ease crippling fuel shortages in the crisis-hit country. https://t.co/qgjejulpZJ
It was portrayed as a victory by Hezbollah, which stepped in to supply the fuel from its patron, Iran, while the cash-strapped government grappled with the fuel shortages for months. “This is a very big and great thing for us because we broke the siege of America and foreign countries. … We are working with the help of God and our great mother Iran,” said Nabiha Idriss, a Hezbollah supporter who gathered with others to greet the tankers’ convoy as it passed through the eastern town of Al-Ain.
Hezbollah has portrayed the Lebanese economic meltdown, which began in October 2019, as partly caused by an informal siege imposed by America due to the militant group’s power and influence in Lebanon. The group has been sanctioned by consecutive US administrations.
Lebanon’s crisis is rooted in decades of corruption and mismanagement by the ruling class and a sectarian-based political system that thrives on patronage and nepotism. Severe shortages in fuel have paralyzed the country, resulting in crippling power cuts that have disrupted the work of hospitals and bakeries. Just to get gasoline, people must wait hours in line, commonly called, “queues of humiliation.” Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah had announced a month ago that Iran was sending fuel to Lebanon to help ease the crisis. The first Hezbollah-commissioned Iranian oil tanker arrived in the Syrian port of Baniyas on Sunday and the diesel was unloaded to Syrian storage places before it was brought overland to Lebanon on Thursday by tanker truck. The convoy went through an informal border crossing in Qusayr in Syria.
Nasrallah said in a televised speech earlier this week that the tanker did not offload its cargo directly in Lebanon to avoid embarrassing Lebanese authorities and risking sanctions on Lebanon.
Hezbollah, which is often accused by its opponents of operating a state-within-a-state and has been taking part in Syria’s civil war alongside government forces, has its own crossing points along the Lebanon-Syria border away from formal border crossings.
There was no immediate comment from Lebanese or US officials on the Iranian fuel delivery Thursday. “Don’t forget this day,” tweeted Laury Haytayan, a Lebanese oil and gas expert and activist, describing it as the day Hezbollah won over the Lebanese state. Hezbollah’s Al-Manar TV called it “the tanker truck convoys to break the American siege” adding that 20 tanker trucks each carrying 50,000 liters (13,210 gallons) crossed the border Thursday and were on their way to the eastern Lebanese city of Baalbek where Hezbollah will start distributing the fuel.
The tanker trucks crossed from Syria’s central province of Homs into Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley and were welcomed by residents who gathered on the sides of the main road. Hezbollah’s yellow flags and banners praising the Iran-backed group and Syria’s President Bashar Assad decorated the streets. A few women showered the trucks with rice and flowers as they drove past.
The arrival of the Iranian diesel comes nearly a week after a new government was formed ending a 13-month deadlock. Lebanon’s new Prime Minister Najib Mikati has not commented on the deal to import fuel from Iran.
Nasrallah said earlier this week that the diesel will be donated for a period of one month to institutions including public hospitals, nursing homes, orphanages, water stations and the Lebanese Red Cross. Nasrallah added that others who will get fuel at low prices are private hospitals, medicine and serum factories, bakeries and cooperatives that sell food products: Nasrallah said three other tankers carrying diesel and one carrying gasoline will arrive in the coming weeks.
#AceNewsReport – Sept.16: According to the criminal complaint affidavit, between October 2016 and November 2020, Express Gene received numerous wire transfers from accounts in Malaysia, the People’s Republic of China, Singapore, Turkey, and the United Arab Emirates, totaling almost $3.5 million. It is alleged that some of the money received was used by Express Gene and its principals to purchase genetic sequencing equipment from U.S. manufacturers and ship them to Iran without a license from the Department of the Treasury, Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) to export the machines, despite sanctions on Iran.
#AceDailyNews reports that three Florida residents have been charged in federal district court in Miami with crimes related to their alleged violations of U.S. sanctions on Iran, and money laundering…..
Defendants Mohammad Faghihi, 52, his wife Farzeneh Modarresi, 53, and his sister Faezeh Faghihi, 50, operated Florida company Express Gene: The incoming money also was used by F. Faghihi and Modarresi to fund the 2019 purchase of the Express Gene property, says the affidavit.
On Feb. 20, Faghihi arrived at Miami International Airport from Iran, where he was inspected by Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers. According to the charging documents, during his inspection by CBP officers, Faghihi made false statements, including that he did not practice his profession in Iran or conduct any type of research in Iran. In fact, according to the affidavit, Faghihi was the director of a laboratory within Shiraz University of Medical Science in Iran bearing his name: “Dr. Faghihi’s Medical Genetic Center,”. In addition, his luggage contained 17 vials of unknown biological substances covered with ice packs and concealed beneath bread and other food items, according to the affidavit. All the vials were subject to regulations.
From approximately 2013 to approximately 2020, Faghihi was an Assistant Professor at the Department of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences at the University of Miami (UM), Miller School of Medicine. During this period, he was the principal investigator on several National Institute of Health (NIH) grants awarded in February 2013, December 2016 and June 2017. It is alleged that Express Gene and Faghihi received large deposits from international wires during this period, but they were not disclosed as required to either UM or NIH’s financial conflict of interest reporting system.
Defendants made their initial federal court appearances today. Their pretrial detention hearings will take place tomorrow, Sept. 15, at 10:00 a.m. in federal magistrate court in Miami.
All defendants are charged with conspiring to commit an offense against the United States and conspiring to commit money laundering. Faghihi and Modarresi are also charged with the unlawful exports of goods to Iran, and smuggling goods out of the United States. Faghihi and F. Faghihi were charged with smuggling goods into the United States and making false statements. Faghihi is further charged with wire fraud.
Acting Assistant Attorney General Mark J. Lesko for the Justice Department’s National Security Division; Acting U.S. Attorney Juan Antonio Gonzalez for the Southern District of Florida; Special Agent in Charge George Piro of the FBI’s Miami Field Office; and Director Vernon Foret of Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Miami Field Office made the announcement.
FBI Miami and CBP Miami are investigating the case. The University of Miami provided invaluable assistance.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Thakur and Senior Litigation Counsel Randy Hummel of the Southern District of Florida and Trial Attorney Menno Goedman of the National Security Division’s Counterintelligence and Export Control Section are prosecuting the case.
A criminal complaint is merely an allegation, and all defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.
#AceNewsReport – Sept.15: Last week, the correspondent accounts of Belarusbank, Belinvestbank and Belagroprombank were closed by Deutcsche Bank, a key correspondent bank for Belarusian banking institutions,
#AceDailyNews says that Nasha Niva reports, citing sources as Belarus loses access to European banking system due to sanctions: European banks began to massively close dollar end euro correspondent accounts of Belarusian states-owned companies, making it impossible to conduct operations in two key world currencies………..
Belagroprombank, one of three banks sanctioned by the EU, has lost correspondent relations not only with Deutsche, but also with all its European correspondent banks, including Germany’s Commerzbank, DZ Bank, Italy’s Unione di Banche Italie and Poland’s PKO Bank.
Even Russian banks, including Sberbank, VTB and Rosselkhozbank, refused to conduct currency transactions with Belagroprombank.
A similar situation has developed with Belarusbank and Belinvestbank, which are also included in the EU sanctions list, Nasha Niva reports.
Two thin threads on which the Belarusian banking sector is still hanging and which can break at any time are the European subsidiary of VTB (conducts operations for Belarusbank) and the Moscow TKB Bank, which holds euro accounts for Belagroprombank.
Isolation from the world monetary system has already hit Belarusian business. Foreign currency payments are still technically possible through small Belarusian and marginal Russian banks, but this all makes it very difficult to fulfill existing contracts and jeopardizes new ones, one of the entrepreneurs complained to Nasha Niva.
“It used to be that a three-day delay in payment was considered a scandal, now two weeks is a norm because money goes around half the world to get where it needs to go,” he says, adding that the private sector is likely to move to other banks or look for opportunities through neighboring countries.
On June 24, the European Union announced the imposition of economic sanctions against the regime of Alexander Lukashenko for “serious human rights violations”, “brutal suppression of civil rights”, as well as the forced landing of the Ryanair flight in Minsk, which the West qualified as air piracy.
All Belarusian banks with a state share of more than 50%, as well as subsidiaries of Belarusbank, Belinvestbank, Belagroprombank, fell under sanctions prohibiting the provision of financing for a period of more than 90 days.
Lukashenko, commenting on the EU decision, said that the sanctions show “impotence” and called for “scoundrels on the other side of the border” to prove this in practice.
#AceNewsReport – Aug.04: According to the agency, the German authorities will focus on the European Union imposing sanctions on Russia…
#AceDailyNews says that Germany will not block Nord Stream 2 if Russia tries to use the Nord Stream-2 gas pipeline as a geopolitical weapon, Germany will not block it and will rely on European Union to impose sanctions …..
Veth: Published: Aug.03, 2021
UNIAN: The Nord Stream-2 gas pipeline is already 99% built.German authorities will focus on EU sanctions against Russia / Illustration REUTERS
Sanctions may be imposed in response to the Kremlin’s aggressive actions, but the authors say the pipeline is unlikely to be restricted.
According to the agency, Berlin’s unwillingness to take action against Russia at the national level may further exacerbate criticism of the pipeline agreement in the US Congress.
#AceNewsReport – July.30: Barely 48 hours before the arrival in China of one of Biden’s most-trusted diplomats, Beijing has announced its decision to impose counter-sanctions on seven American citizens and entities, including former commerce secretary Wilbur Ross, in retaliation against Washington’s earlier sanctions on Chinese officials over Hong Kong crackdowns….
On July 13, 2021, the U.S. Department of State, alongside the U.S. Department of the Treasury, the U.S. Department of Commerce, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, and the U.S. Department of Labor issued an updated Xinjiang Supply Chain Business Advisory to highlight the heightened risks for businesses with supply chain and investment links to Xinjiang, given the entities complicit in forced labor and other human rights abuses there and throughout China. This updates the original Xinjiang Supply Chain Business Advisory issued by U.S. government agencies on July 1, 2020.
It is not the first time Washington and Beijing have imposed mutual sanctions, but the latest round marks the first time China has done so using its new anti-foreign sanction law, which was passed in June.
Others affected in Beijing’s “reciprocal counter-sanctions” are the current or former heads of a range of US organisations, including the Congressional-Executive Commission on China, the US-China Economic and Security Review Commission, the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs, the International Republican Institute, Human Rights Watch (HRW), and the Washington-based Hong Kong Democracy Council.
In response to Beijing’s counter sanctions, one of the affected US citizens, HRW’s China director Sophie Richardson tweeted, sarcastically: “thanks, for the extra motivation!” She added in another tweet, in reply to Jo Smith Finley, a British Xinjiang expert who was sanctioned by Beijing in March: “Seriously: so much work to do! And this ain’t about us.”
Since the enactment of the anti-foreign sanctions law last month, Beijing’s decision to impose counter-sanctions has been expected, but the timing of it is indicative of the deteriorating US-China relations. It also comes just less than 48 hours before US deputy secretary of state Wendy Sherman’s China visit on Sunday.
“Washington has reiterated that Sherman’s visit and talk with the Chinese side will be from ‘a position of strength’, but Beijing may want to remind [the Biden administration] that they are equals,” said Ma Ji, a senior CV Starr lecturer at Peking University’s school of transnational law.
Ma added: “Of course, none of those targeted are in Biden’s inner circle, which means that Beijing still wants to continue the conversation with Washington. But by issuing this list shortly before Sherman’s visit, Beijing clearly intends to reduce her expectations.”
#AceNewsReport – May.29: The Ryanair flight was forced to land on May 23 in Minsk, where 26-year-old Belarusian journalist and opposition activist Raman Pratasevich and his girlfriend were detained. The EU demanded their immediate release, with some leaders calling the incident “state hijacking.”
BRUSSELS: EU Leaders Agree On Belarus Sanctions @acenewsservicesAfter Flight Diversion, Arrest Of Journalist: Following a summit in Brussels on May 24, the bloc instructed officials to “adopt necessary measures to ban overflight of EU airspace by Belarusian airlines and prevent access to EU airports,” European Council President Charles Michel’s spokesman Barend Leyts said in a statement posted on Twitter.
The summit’s conclusions came as Pratasevich, in a video released on Belarusian state TV on May 24, said he was “confessing” to charges of being behind civil disturbances, an offense punishable by up to 15 years in prison.
“I can say that I have no health problems…. I continue cooperating with investigators and am confessing to having organized mass unrest in the city of Minsk,” he says in the video, in which he appears to have black marks on his forehead. The Belarusian opposition and Pratasevich’s allies dismissed the comments as made under duress.
Dmitry Pratasevich, the detained Belarusian journalist’s father, told RFE/RL the family was “very worried about what is happening to our son.” Pratasevich’s parents said they feared their son, who has lived in Lithuania and Poland since he fled a brutal crackdown against the opposition in Belarus, would be tortured.
In the statement adopted at the summit, the leaders said the EU “demands the immediate release” of Pratasevich and his girlfriend and called on the European Council to adopt additional sanctions on Belarusian persons and entities.
Leaders also urged the bloc’s airlines to avoid Belarus’s airspace and called on the UN’s International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) to urgently investigate the incident, which it called “unprecedented and unacceptable.” The UN agency said its 36 diplomatic representatives will meet on May 27 to discuss Belarus’s actions.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres also backed calls for an independent investigation into the plane diversion.
The EU also voiced its solidarity with member Latvia, which announced it was expelling all Belarusian diplomats, including the Belarusian ambassador, in a tit-for-tat measure.
Earlier on May 24, Belarus expelled Latvia’s ambassador to Minsk and all the embassy’s employees apart from one staff member. The Belarusian Foreign Ministry announced that move after the Latvia-based airBaltic joined other airlines that are avoiding Belarus airspace.
Polish national carrier LOT, Hungarian airline Wizzair, Scandinavian airline SAS, and Dutch airline KLM were among airliners announcing a halt to using Belarus’s airspace.
Lithuanian Transport Minister Marius Skuodis announced that all flights to and from Lithuanian airports must avoid Belarusian airspace from midnight GMT on May 25.
British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said the UK would suspend the air permit that allows flights in British airspace by the Belarus’s national airline, Belavia — a move that effectively blocks it from using Britain’s transit hub at Heathrow International Airport. Raab also said British authorities are instructing British airlines to cease all of their flights over Belarusian airspace.
Raab told Parliament that Belarus “must be held to account for such reckless and dangerous behavior.”
“The scenario as reported is a shocking assault on civil aviation and an assault on international law,” he said. “It represents a danger to civilian flights everywhere.”
The diversion of the flight and the detention of Pratasevich has also been met by criticism from the United States, which has pledged to coordinate a response with its European allies.
The Ryanair flight from Athens to Lithuania’s capital, Vilnius, was diverted on the orders of Belarusian strongman leader Alyaksandr Lukashenka as it was flying through Belarusian airspace.
Belarusian authorities said the flight to Vilnius was diverted because of a bomb threat from Hamas, a claim the Palestinian militant group rejected.
Rolandas Kiskis, the Lithuanian chief of criminal police, said five of the 126 passengers who boarded the Ryanair flight in Athens did not reach Vilnius, though he would not elaborate.
But Ryanair Chief Executive Officer Michael O’Leary said the airline believes “there were some [Belarusian security agency] KGB agents offloaded at the airport as well.”
Although the Ryanair flight was closer to Vilnius when it was intercepted, Minsk claims the diversion and forced landing with a MiG-29 fighter jet escort was necessary because Belarusian authorities were informed there was a bomb on the plane. No explosive device was found.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel dismissed that explanation as “completely implausible.”
“We have seen a forced landing that led to the arrest,” Merkel said on May 24 ahead of the summit. “All other explanations for the landing of this Ryanair flight are completely implausible.”
“This was effectively aviation piracy, state sponsored,” Ireland’s Foreign Minister Simon Coveney said. Ryanair is headquartered in Dublin.
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg denounced the diversion as a “serious and dangerous incident.” NATO officials say the military alliance will discuss the matter on May 25.
Many European leaders already have called for expanded sanctions against the regime of Lukashenka, who has led a sometimes violent and deadly crackdown on dissent in his country since mass protests broke over the disputed results of last August’s presidential election.
Russia accused the West of hypocrisy, reiterating accusations that in 2013 a flight from Moscow carrying then-Bolivian President Evo Morales had been diverted to Austria after reports that fugitive U.S. intelligence leaker Edward Snowden might be on board.
Speaking to reporters, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov wouldn’t say if the Belarusian authorities had contacted Russia about the incident.
Russia and Belarus have close political, economic and military ties, and Lukashenka has relied on Moscow’s support amid Western sanctions.
The EU has already imposed three rounds of sanctions against Belarus and was preparing a fourth round before the Ryanair event, including further asset freezes and visa bans on Belarusian officials and entities amid the ongoing crackdown on the opposition and pro-democracy protesters.
Belarus has been rocked by protests since Lukashenka, in power since 1994, was declared the landslide winner of a presidential election in August 2020 that the West and opposition deem fraudulent.
Since then, more than 30,000 people have been detained, hundreds beaten or tortured, and journalists targeted in the crackdown by Lukashenka.
The opposition says Svyatlana Tsikhanouskaya, who fled to neighboring Lithuania after the election due to concerns about her safety, was the true winner of the vote.
Pratasevich was a key administrator of the Telegram channel Nexta Live, which has been covering the protests that broke out in Belarus following the disputed presidential election.
Belarusian authorities in November 2020 launched investigations into Pratasevich and a colleague, Stsyapan Putsila, on suspicion of the organization of mass disorder, disruption of social order, and inciting social hatred.
Describing Pratasevich as a high-profile opponent of Lukashenka, Tsikhanouskaya told Sky News on May 24 that she was “really afraid not only for his freedom, but for his life.
Pratasevich spoke to Current Time from an undisclosed location in Poland on November 19, 2020, after Belarusian authorities issued a warrant for his arrest.
“It seems to me that the [state] power now considers nearly any expression of a different opinion in general to be a crime,” Pratasevich said, saying this was clear from the number of people who were being detained. Current Time is a Russian-language network run by RFE/RL in cooperation with VOA.
In October 2020, a court in Minsk designated the Nexta Live channel and its logo as extremist and instructed the Information Ministry to restrict access to information resources using the name and logo of the Telegram channel, as well as their distribution in the Belarusian segment of the Internet.
Media in Belarus have been targeted by the Lukashenka government in the ongoing crackdown. The watchdog Reporters Without Borders has designated Belarus as the most dangerous spot in Europe for journalists.
With reporting by RFE/RL’s Belarus Service, Reuters, AP, and AFP
#AceNewsReport – Apr.10: Imam Khamenei’s Instagram account also released a video in which His Eminence reiterated that Tehran is in no hurry for Washington to come back to the nuclear agreement.
Imam Khamenei: Verification of US Sanctions Removal Means Iran Should Be Able to Sell Its Oil: The talks, taking place in Vienna in the Joint Commission of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) are chaired by an official appointed by the EU’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs Josep Borrell.
Imam Khamenei’s remarks came in a post on his Instagram page on Thursday as an Iranian negotiating team is in the Austrian capital city of Vienna to discuss conditions for the revival of the landmark 2015 nuclear deal, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action [JCPOA], with other signatories to the deal: https://t.me/reuters_news_agency/72596 Reuters Wire News, [Apr 9, 2021 at 12:35 PM]
Iran nuclear deal participants to continue talks next week- EU BRUSSELS (Reuters) – Officials from Iran, China, Russia, France, Germany and Britain will continue talks on the return of the United States to the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran next week, after “constructive exchanges” this week, the European Union said on Friday.
“Verification [of US sanctions removal] means [being capable of] selling oil in an official manner, with ease and under normal conditions, and its money be received by Iran,” His Eminence added.
His Eminence added that the signatories of the nuclear agreement failed to abide by their commitments under the deal, noting that the decision by the Iranian government and parliament to rollback Tehran’s nuclear commitments was right.
Imam Khamenei stated that commitment on one side should be reciprocated by commitment on the other side and the US must remove all sanctions if the West wants Iran to return to JCPOA compliance.
His Eminence also noted that Tehran will return to full compliance with the nuclear deal once it verifies sanctions have been really removed by the US.
Imam Khamenei said other signatories to the deal have no right to set conditions for Tehran as long as they have not fulfilled their obligations, emphasizing that this is Iran’s definitive policy from which Tehran will not step back.
The United States began imposing heavy economic sanctions against Iran in 2018 after former US President Donald Trump scrapped the JCPOA, which was signed by Iran and world powers, as a result of which Iran was barred from economic transactions with the rest of the world, including selling its oil and receiving its money.
While the Trump administration described its anti-Iran measures as the “maximum pressure” policy, Tehran slammed the measures as “economic war,” “economic terrorism” and also “medical terrorism,” maintaining that the sanctions have severely harmed Iranians but failed to bring the nation to its knees.
The new US administration of Joe Biden has conceded that the so-called maximum pressure campaign has failed, promising to replace it with a new policy, but it has so far failed to take any practical steps in that direction and has actually followed suit with Trump-era policies toward Iran.
Iran remained fully compliant with the deal for an entire year but as the remaining European parties failed to fulfill their end of the bargain, Tehran began in May 2019 to scale back its JCPOA commitments in several steps under Articles 26 and 36 of the accord covering Tehran’s legal rights.
#AceNewsReport – Apr.07: Manhattan U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss said: “As alleged, Michael Rose participated in a years-long scheme to violate our sanctions by surreptitiously exporting cosmetics to Iran via front company intermediaries in the Middle East. Today’s charges underscore that those who violate our sanctions on Iran will be investigated and prosecuted.”
‘Michael Rose Allegedly Sold More Than $350,000 in Goods to an Iranian Importer in Violation of U.S. Sanctions and Allegedly Committed Related Money Laundering and Bank Fraud Crimes’
Southern District of New York:
According to the Indictment unsealed today in Manhattan federal court:
MICHAEL ROSE is the president of a Long Island-based cosmetics manufacturer and supplier (“Company-1”). In that role, ROSE manages, among other things, Company-1’s operations and its international sales business. Between 2015 and 2018, ROSE participated in a conspiracy to evade U.S. sanctions on Iran by causing Company-1 to export from the United States more than $350,000 worth of cosmetics to an importer in Iran (“Importer-1”). In or about June 2015, ROSE signed a contract with Importer-1 establishing that Importer-1’s Iran-based company would be the exclusive distributor for Company-1’s products in Iran. Importer-1 then used front companies based outside Iran to make payments to Company-1 in New York and to arrange for the transshipment of Company-1’s goods to Iran via the United Arab Emirates. In addition to shipping goods and accepting payments in violation of U.S. sanctions, ROSE also filed false and misleading information on United States Department of Commerce Shipper’s Export Declaration forms in connection with the illegal shipments. The forms falsely represented that the “ultimate consignee” for the goods was in the United Arab Emirates, not Iran, and also falsely lowered the purchase price for the goods purchased by Importer-1 in order to evade customs payments.
ROSE, 50, of Ridgefield, Connecticut, is charged in the Indictment with (1) conspiring to violate IEEPA, in violation of 50 U.S.C. § 1705, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison; (2) conspiring to launder money, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1956(h), which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison; and (3) conspiring to commit bank fraud, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1349, which carries a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison. The statutory penalties are prescribed by Congress and are provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendant would be determined by the judge.
Ms. Strauss praised the outstanding efforts of the FBI and the Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security (“BIS”) for their assistance.
This prosecution is being handled by the Office’s Terrorism and International Narcotics Unit. Assistant U.S. Attorney Sam Adelsberg is in charge of the prosecution, with assistance from Trial Attorney Scott Claffee of the Counterintelligence and Export Control Section of the Department of Justice’s National Security Division.
Audrey Strauss, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, William F. Sweeney Jr., Assistant Director-in-Charge of the New York Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”), and Jonathan Carson, Special Agent in Charge of the New York Field Office of the U.S. Department of Commerce, Office of Export Enforcement (“DOC-OEE”), announced today the unsealing of charges against MICHAEL ROSE for conspiring to violate the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (“IEEPA”), and participating in bank fraud and money laundering conspiracies. ROSE was arrested by the FBI and OEE today, and he will be presented later today in Manhattan federal court before United States Magistrate Judge Stewart D. Aaron.
FBI Assistant Director William F. Sweeney Jr. said: “Whatever his motivation – greed or something more sinister – we allege Mr. Rose intentionally disguised his products’ ultimate destination and lied about those products’ prices to limit his customs liability. It’s a federal crime to violate sanctions the United States put in place to protect our national interests from Iran and other designated nation states. Mr. Rose may have thought the rules didn’t apply to him, but, if he did, today’s action demonstrates otherwise.”
DOC-OEE Special Agent in Charge Jonathan Carson said: “The Office of Export Enforcement will vigorously enforce sanctions violations involving Iran, including actions by exporters to undermine the integrity of our export control system through the submission of false or misleading information. The Office of Export Enforcement will continue applying the investigative resources and authorities necessary to protect and promote U.S. national security, foreign policy, and economic interests.”
The charges contained in the Indictment are merely accusations and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
 As the introductory phrase signifies, the entirety of the text of the Indictment, and the description of the Indictment set forth herein, constitute only allegations and every fact described should be treated as an allegation.
#AceNewsReport – Mar.20: The complaint, filed in October 2020 in U.S. District Court of Los Angeles, charges the defendants with one count of conspiracy to violate the Iranian Transactions and Sanctions Regulations, Iranian Financial Sanctions Regulations and the International Emergency Economic Powers Act. The defendants are believed to be located outside of the United States. If convicted, the defendants would face a statutory maximum sentence of 20 years in federal prison. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
‘A federal criminal complaint unsealed today charges 10 Iranian nationals with running a nearly 20-year-long scheme to evade U.S. sanctions on the Government of Iran by disguising more than $300 million worth of transactions – including the purchase of two $25 million oil tankers – on Iran’s behalf through front companies in the San Fernando Valley, Canada, Hong Kong and the United Arab Emirates. In addition, a forfeiture complaint filed today seeks a money laundering penalty in the amount of $157,332,367’
“In a substantial civil forfeiture action filed by the Department, the defendants stand to lose over $157 million in funds involved in violations of the Iran sanctions,” said Assistant Attorney General for National Security John C. Demers. “This is only right. Through the use of front companies, money service businesses and exchanges throughout the world, the defendants worked to disguise hundreds of millions of dollars worth of transactions on behalf of a state sponsor of terrorism. Make no mistake, the Department of Justice will continue to deploy all tools necessary to curb the Iranian regime’s ability to use the U.S. financial system to support its malign endeavors.”
“The FBI has a keen ability to track nefarious actors who use the U.S. financial system to evade sanctions,” said Alan E. Kohler, Jr., Assistant Director of the FBI’s Counterintelligence Division. “Our investigation revealed over 70 front companies were used by these individuals to hide their conspiracy in support of the Iranian Governments pursuit of nuclear weapons and sponsorship of terrorism.”
“In a wide-ranging scheme spanning nearly two decades and several continents, the defendants conspired to abuse the U.S. financial system to conduct hundreds of millions of dollars in transactions on behalf of the Government of Iran,” said Acting United States Attorney Tracy L. Wilkison for the Central District of California. “Today’s indictment is an example of the will of federal law enforcement to bring to justice those who violate our sanctions and laws designed to strengthen our national security.”
According to court documents, the complaint details a decades-long conspiracy to evade U.S. sanctions on Iran, a nation which the U.S. State Department has designated as a state sponsor of terrorism. During the scheme, the defendants allegedly created and used more than 70 front companies, money service businesses and exchange houses – often using the name “Persepolis” or “Rosco” – in the United States, Iran, Canada, the United Arab Emirates and Hong Kong. The defendants also allegedly made false representations to financial institutions to disguise more than $300 million worth of transactions on Iran’s behalf, using money wired in U.S. dollars and sent through U.S.-based banks.
The complaint alleges that the defendants were aware of U.S. sanctions on Iran throughout the conspiracy. In one email exchange, for example, defendants allegedly discussed the U.S. government’s efforts to disrupt Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei’s “international financial network,” an organization allegedly designed to conceal investments from the Iranian people and international regulators. In an iCloud account, one defendant saved a press report about new U.S. sanctions imposed on firms suspected of funding the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps.
As alleged, several defendants operated or were employed by Persepolis Financial Services Inc., an Encino-based company that facilitated the illegal transfer of U.S. dollars on Iran’s behalf from 1999 through the early 2000s. After a Persepolis Financial executive was convicted in 2003, several defendants left the country and moved to Canada and the United Arab Emirates. There, they owned, operated or were employed by additional front companies – using the names Rosco Trading, Rosco International, Persepolis and Rosco Investment – that were used for well over a decade to secretly facilitate U.S. dollar transactions on Iran’s behalf.
In addition, several defendants allegedly used a Hong Kong-based front company known as Total Excellence Ltd. to secretly buy two $25 million oil tankers on Iran’s behalf. The U.S. later sanctioned the businessman for using Iranian money to purchase oil tankers and to help Iran ship crude oil in violation of U.S. and European Union sanctions. In 2013, two defendants allegedly defrauded a financial institution in the UAE by preparing a fraudulent invoice and making false statements indicating that a transaction in U.S. dollars – processed through a New York-based bank – was undertaken on behalf of a UAE-based front company. In actuality, the true buyer was an Iranian oil and gas company, the affidavit states.
Furthermore, in 2016, several defendants allegedly conspired to wire millions of dollars through the U.S. financial system to complete a transaction with a South Korean equipment manufacturer on Iran’s behalf. During that transaction, four defendants instructed the manufacturer to not to “mention any name of Iran” in any paperwork exchanged with financial institutions processing the transaction, the affidavit alleges. In March 2017, the South Korean company sent $1 million to a front company selected by the conspirators.
Finally, in 2016, the conspirators secretly transferred thousands of dollars into Southern California on Iran’s behalf, including $66,766 that a defendant transferred to a Santa Monica-based company with a bank account held at Wells Fargo & Co., to acquire electronic equipment at the direction of a business associate at an Iran-based company, according to the affidavit.
The FBI is investigating the case.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys William M. Rollins of the Terrorism and Export Crimes Section, Dan G. Boyle of the Asset Forfeiture Section, and Trial Attorney David Lim of the Department of Justice’s Counterintelligence and Export Control Section are prosecuting this case.
A complaint contains allegations that a defendant has committed a crime. Every defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
#AceNewsReport – Featured Update:IRAN:April.09: Iranian President said Tehran won’t sign a final nuclear deal unless economic sanctions against the country are lifted first. The comments contradict Washington’s statement that sanctions would be lifted gradually, subject to Iran compliance.
‘ Tweets over Sanctions by Rouhani ‘
“We will not sign any deal unless all sanctions are lifted on the same day … We want a win-win deal for all parties involved in the nuclear talks,” Rouhani said in a televised speech on Thursday.
The President’s comments come as a blow to US President Barack Obama’s efforts to sell the deal to its opponents, both in the US and abroad.
Supporters of the deal, which was negotiated last week at marathon talks in Switzerland and is to be finalized in June, say the sanctions relief for Iran would be gradual, and implemented in response to Iran’s moves to scale down its nuclear program. They could be reversed in case of non-compliance, they argue. Obama has called the plan the best deal possible at the moment.
The UN Security Council, the US, the EU and several other countries had imposed several rounds of sanctions against Iran due to its controversial nuclear program.
Lifting of the sanctions in exchange for a scaling-down of nuclear enrichment activities and a degree of international control over the Iranian nuclear industry is at the core of the deal. Agreeing exact terms on how quickly the sanctions will be lifted and how the program will be curtailed was a tough task for the nuclear negotiators.
“Our goal in the talks is to preserve our nation’s nuclear rights. We want an outcome that will be in everyone’s benefit,” President Rouhani said in a ceremony to mark Iran’s National Day of Nuclear Technology.
Khamenei added that Tehran would not consider a postponement of the June 30 deadline for reaching a final nuclear deal “the end of the world.” He also said that Iran would not allow international inspections, which the deal is expected to include, as these could compromise its military secrets.
Hours after the #talks, Americans offered a fact sheet that most of it was contrary to what was agreed.They always deceive &breach promises.
#AceWorldNews – NORTH KOREA:Jan.04: North Korea has slammed as “hostile” fresh US sanctions against Pyongyang and has denied any involvement in a cyber-attack on Sony. “The persistent and unilateral action taken by the White House to slap‘sanctions’ against the DPRK [North Korea] patently proves that it is still not away from inveterate repugnancy and hostility toward the DPRK,” Reuters cites the North Korean Foreign Ministry as saying Sunday in a statement, reported by KCNA news agency.
US President Barack Obama signed an executive order Friday authorizing the imposition of new sanctions against three North Korean businesses and 10 individuals in the wake of the recent Sony hack the White House blames on Pyongyang.
#AceWorldNews – BRUSSELS – Nov.14 – The decision on whether to impose more economic sanctions against Russia will likely be made by EU leaders in mid-December, rather than by foreign ministers who are meeting in Brussels on Monday, Reuters quoted diplomats as saying.
The foreign ministers may produce a list of Ukrainian rebel figures and possibly some Russians to be added to the list of personal sanctions already in place, according to an internal paper seen by the news agency.
They will be required to keep in mind “that the main separatist leaders are already listed…and the fact that the targeted separatists could be at some point agents in the implementation of the peace plan.”
#AceWorldNews – YEMEN – Nov.09 – A new Yemeni government is set to be sworn in Sunday, despite opposition from the General People’s Congress (GPC), the ruling party in the country’s parliament led by former President Ali Abdullah Saleh, and the Houthis, a powerful Shia rebel group that controls much of south Yemen.
#AceWorldNews – CANADA – September 19 – Canada has cancelled sanctions against two small Russian banks, Expobank and RosEnergoBank, the country’s Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird confirmed on Thursday.
The sanctions were dropped quietly on Tuesday, at the same time that Canada rolled out new sanctions against Russia.
After being asked why the sanctions were withdrawn at the House of Commons, Baird explained that the government received new information that influenced its decision.
“They [the banks] are deemed to be sufficiently divorced from events in Ukraine and Russian aggression against Ukraine,” he said, without elaborating why they were put on the sanctions list in the first place.
The sanctions against the two banks were imposed earlier this year.
#AceWorldNews – MOSCOW – September 11 It seems that the international commission on the investigation into the crash of the Malaysian airliner crash in Ukraine less than two month ago intentionally drags out the investigation as a result of pressure from some Western powers, Alexander Lukashevich, a spokesman for the Russian Foreign Ministry, said on Thursday Itar-Tass reported.
“We point out that the process of the [report’s] publication and the process itself is delayed on purpose by the international commission,” Lukashevich said. “The presented report does not hold any convincing information on the circumstances of the airliner’s crash and the most important expertize was not conducted.”
The Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 plane (Flight MH17) crash was used for pushing through the sectoral sanctions against Russia, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Aleksandr Lukashevich said on Thursday.
“We very attentively follow the investigation of the tragic catastrophe of the Malaysian Boeing that not only claimed many lives, but also was used for purposeful exacerbating international tensions, increasing pressure on the state and pushing through the so-called sectoral sanctions against Russia,” he told a briefing.
“We strongly urge all the sides to abstain from hasty and groundless public accusations that not only undermine the international relations foundations, but also are outrageous facts of interference in an independent investigation,” the official added.
#AceWorldNews A list has surfaced containing the names of more than 100 Russian businessmen and politicians allegedly targeted for European Union Economic Sanctions. German newspaper Bild reported Igor Sechin, CEO of the world’s largest-listed oil company is on the list.
Alexey Miller, head of state-owned Gazprom and Vladimir Yankunin, who runs Russian
Railways, are both rumoured to be on the ‘list’.
“This is stupid, petty and obvious sabotage of themselves most of all,” Rosneft spokesman Mikhail Leontyev said by phone, Reuters reports.
Rosneft’s official comment echoes that of Sergey Lavrov, Russia’s foreign minister, who warned any sanctions against Moscow will have a “boomerang” effect.
“I hope this all ends up as being empty rhetoric,” Leontyev said in response to the Bild’s report that Sechin is on the list of key targets.
The US and EU have warned that Russia’s actions in Crimea will be followed by economic sanctions, and it won’t be “business as usual” with Russia.
More precise actions are expected on March 17, following a referendum vote in Crimea taking place this Sunday.