Nordgas S.r.l. deceived a U.S. supplier and re-exported 27 shipments of air-pressure switches to Iran, according to a settlement announced Friday by the U.S. Treasury Department.

Nordgas, an Italian company that produces and sells components for gas boiler systems, struck a relationship in 2010 with a U.S. supplier and began misleading the firm two years later, according to a web notice posted by the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC). As many as 10 customers in Iran received shipments of switches, OFAC said in the web notice.

“This action demonstrates the risks foreign companies assume when involving U.S. persons and goods procured from the United States in dealings with U.S.-sanctioned jurisdictions and entities,” OFAC said. “Foreign companies involved in such trade should understand that OFAC’s prohibitions can extend not just to U.S. persons, but to their foreign trading activities as well.”

Nordgas agreed to pay USD 950,000 to resolve the matter; the company did not self-disclose the violations, and OFAC deemed the conduct as egregious. However, OFAC suspended USD 650,000 of the penalty pending satisfactory completion of compliance commitments agreed to by Nordgas, as well as the company’s financial situation and its cooperation, the notice said.

As of this writing, the company didn’t have a response to the settlement posted on its website. The company received credit from OFAC for ceasing all shipments of goods from the U.S. to Iran, and it took remedial actions, including implementation of a sanctions compliance program and agreeing to enhanced commitments under the settlement, according to the web notice.

Nordgas committed to maintain its sanctions compliance measures for at least five years to minimize the risk of recurrent conduct, according to the terms of the settlement agreement, which OFAC typically posts in cases it deems as an egregious violation.

Nordgas had sought to buy air pressure switches from the U.S. supplier as early as 2010, but it was told that the items could not be exported to Iran, and the company acknowledged the restriction, according to the settlement. However, Nordgas started to mislead the supplier by late 2012, telling the U.S. firm that the end-user for the switches was an Italian affiliate, when in fact the company intended to send them to Iran, the settlement said.

Between 2013 and 2017, Nordgas ordered and received 27 shipments from the U.S. supplier, all of which were exported to Iranian end users, the total value of which was about USD 2.5 million, according to the settlement. To conceal its intentions, Nordgas employees used deceptive replacement terms for Iran in correspondence and trade records with the supplier, and the conduct continued for several years thereafter, the settlement said. In addition to code words, Nordgas engaged in other efforts to obfuscate the Iranian shipments, the settlement said, citing instances in which it rebuffed the U.S. supplier’s attempt to ship directly to the Italian affiliate and a request that the company remove “Made in USA” labels from the switches.

For the final shipment, in March 2017, the U.S. supplier became aware of Nordgas’ intent to re-export its goods to Iran, and demanded them back — a request Nordgas granted, according to the settlement. The U.S. supplier refunded Nordgas for its payment, the settlement said.

The Nordgas settlement comes days after UniControl Inc., an Ohio-based manufacturer, agreed to pay USD 216,424 after the company failed to catch its European trade partners exporting its goods, including air-pressure switches, to Iran.

“Foreign companies should not expect their obligations with respect to U.S. sanctions to be fulfilled by their U.S. partners. In international trade transactions, each party is responsible for understanding their own obligations pursuant to OFAC regulations,” OFAC said Friday. “Accordingly, foreign companies engaging in business with U.S. partners should institute a risk-based sanctions compliance program.”

Source » kharon