OFAC fines Nordgas for Iran sanctions violations

Italian company Nordgas, a producer and seller of components for gas boiler systems and applications, will pay $950,000 for apparent violations of Iran sanctions, the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) announced Friday.

OFAC termed the violations “egregious.” The case appears to relate to another enforcement action by the regulator earlier this month against UniControl, an Ohio-based manufacturer of process controls and instrumentation.

According to a settlement agreement, Nordgas as early as 2010 sought to purchase air pressure switches for gas boiler systems from a U.S. company with the intent to resell the switches to Iranian companies. The U.S. company informed Nordgas that was not allowed, and Nordgas acknowledged the restriction.

Nonetheless, Nordgas in 2012 “again sought to purchase air pressure switches from the same U.S. company,” OFAC said. “This time Nordgas misled the U.S. company, asserting that the end-user was Nordgas’s Italian affiliate. In fact, employees at Nordgas knew that the end-users were actually Iranian companies.”

For several years, Nordgas employees used alternative terms and code words to avoid referencing the Iranian end-users in communications with the U.S. company until March 2017, when the latter became aware of what was happening. “Between 2013 and 2017, Nordgas ordered and received 27 shipments of switches from the U.S. company, all of which Nordgas re-exported to Iranian end-users,” OFAC said.

The total value of the goods resold to Iran was more than $2.5 million, according to the regulator.

OFAC does not name UniControl as the U.S. company, though the cases share several notable similarities. UniControl’s apparent violations involved air pressure switches that were re-exported to Iran via a European trade partner. UniControl had told the European trade partner it could not ship to Iran in 2010 but “failed to take appropriate steps in response to multiple warning signs” the trading partner later did so anyway. This continued until March 2017—the same end date as the Nordgas case.

UniControl was fined $216,464 for its apparent violations.

The maximum fine applicable in the Nordgas case was nearly $7.7 million. OFAC said in view of the individual facts, “as well as Nordgas’s financial circumstances, its cooperation with OFAC, and its agreement to implement enhanced compliance commitments, $650,000 of the ($950,000) settlement amount will be suspended pending satisfactory completion of Nordgas’s compliance commitments.”

Those compliance objectives include senior management commitment to the OFAC compliance program, “including in the form of human capital, expertise, information-technology and other resources, as appropriate,” and the same will apply to Nordgas’s testing and audit function, according to the settlement agreement.

Nordgas also agreed to conduct an OFAC risk assessment; implement internal controls that address the risks addressed in the OFAC risk assessment; and implement an OFAC-related training program. For five years, a senior-level executive or manager of Nordgas must provide a written report to OFAC detailing how it is meeting the commitments to its sanctions-compliance program.

Source » complianceweek

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