On 21 July, OFAC announced the issuance of a Finding of Violation to MidFirst Bank, a financial institution headquartered in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. It is reported that the violations related to the bank maintaining accounts for and processing of 34 payments on behalf of 2 individuals added to OFAC’s SDN List) for 14 days after their designation. It is also said that the violations stemmed from MidFirst’s misunderstanding of the frequency of its vendor’s screening of new names added to the SDN List against its existing customer base.
On 20 July, OCCRP reported that 4 people, including the former head of the Cyprus Parliament, have been charged with corruption over their role in the country’s cash for passport scheme. Cyprus authorities said in a statement that the charges were related to an Al Jazeera investigation, and the findings of a 2021 board of inquiry following the exposé.
On 21 July, the Cabinet Office launched a consultation, ending on 15 September, to further develop the design and inform the development of any future legislation required to deliver the Single Trade Window – a single gateway into government through which all information required to import and export can be submitted to border authorities and agencies.
On 21 July, Yahoo News reported that the SFO should record contact with defendants, suspects and their representatives as necessary and have effective disclosure strategies for all its cases, the attorney general has said following an independent review. The SFO has been criticised over its handling of a number of high-profile cases. A review by Dick Calvert-Smith highlighted 5 recurrent themes: record-keeping; compliance with casework assurance processes; resourcing; understanding about priorities; and distrust between the case team and senior management.
On 21 July, the Department for International Trade published this updated Notice to Importers, first issued in March, which details import prohibitions in force under the Russia Sanctions Regulations 2019, as amended.
On 21 July, this new Notice to Exporters details a tranche of new trade sanctions on Russia introduced on 21 July. It also remarks that there are some exceptions to the prohibitions, which are set out in detail in the legislation, and licences can be granted in very limited circumstances.
EU Regulation 2022/1273/EU amends a 2014 EU Regulation and involves derogations from the asset freeze and the prohibition to make funds and economic resources available for the orderly wind-down of operations, including correspondent banking relations, with 1 designated bank.
Meanwhile, EU Regulation 2022/1274/EU adds 6 individuals and 1 entity involved in the recruitment of Syrian mercenaries to fight in Ukraine alongside Russian troops to the Russian sanctions lists.
EU Regulation 2022/1275/EU is also connected, adding 4 persons and 1 entity to the Syrian sanctions lists, again in connection to the support that the Syrian regime provides to the Russian Federation’s unprovoked and unjustified military aggression against Ukraine.
On 21 July, the Jerusalem Post reported that 84 million Captagon pills (14 tonnes) were found in containers shipped to the company of the Italian citizen in 2020. While the authorities originally though ISIS was behind the shipment, the BBC and The Washington Post both reported that the authorities later reached the conclusion that entities linked to Syrian President Bashar Assad and the Hezbollah terrorist movement had shipped the amphetamines. It explained that Captagon is one of several brand names for fenethylline hydrochloride, a drug compound belonging to a family of amphetamines that can inhibit fear and ward off tiredness. Syria has been identified as one of the main sources of the drug in the world.
On 21 July, OCCRP reported that a leak shows that the US State Department is adding 23 Nicaraguan judges and prosecutors with close ties to President Daniel Ortega to its list of corrupt actors in Central America. This last US wave of sanction intends to pressure the government of Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega to end its crusade against civil society, and the 23 Nicaraguan judges and prosecutors will be ineligible for visas and admission to the US.