Treasury Targets Sanctions Evasion Conduits for Major Hizballah Financiers

WASHINGTON.- Today, the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) further targeted the global business operations of Hizballah by designating two individuals and three entities acting as conduits for sanctions evasion schemes.

Specifically, OFAC designated Belgium-based Wael Bazzi for acting for or on behalf of his father and Hizballah financier, Mohammad Bazzi. OFAC designated Belgium-based Voltra Transcor Energy BVBA, Belgium-based OFFISCOOP NV, and United Kingdom-based BSQRD Limited for being owned or controlled by Wael Bazzi.

OFAC is also adding Energy Engineers Procurement and Construction as an alias for Global Trading Group NV (GTG), one of Mohammad Bazzi’s companies, which was designated in May 2018. Additionally, OFAC designated Lebanon-based Hassan Tabaja for acting for or on behalf of his brother and Hizballah member and financier, Adham Tabaja.

These individuals and entities were designated under Executive Order (E.O.) 13224, which targets terrorists and those providing support to terrorists or acts of terrorism.

“Treasury is relentlessly pursuing Hizballah’s financial facilitators by dismantling two of Hizballah’s most important financial networks. As Hizballah continues to attempt to obscure its activities by using seemingly legitimate businesses, we will continue to take action against the front persons who hide the movement of money, including the relatives of designated terrorists,” said Sigal Mandelker, Treasury Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence. “By targeting Hassan Tabaja and Wael Bazzi and their European-based companies, this Administration is continuing to disrupt all avenues of financial support relied upon by Hizballah.”

DESIGNATIONS BUILD ON REWARDS FOR JUSTICE PROGRAM
Today’s designation of Hassan Tabaja and Wael Bazzi and his companies builds on the State Department’s April 22, 2019 announcement of a Rewards for Justice (RFJ) reward offer for information leading to the disruption of Hizballah’s financial mechanisms. The program provides rewards for information that helps bring terrorists to justice, prevents international acts of terrorism against U.S. persons or property, leads to the identification or location of a key terrorist leader, or disrupts terrorist financing. OFAC is designating individuals and entities connected to two of the financiers highlighted in that announcement, Mohammad Bazzi and Adham Tabaja. For more information about the reward offer or to submit information on Hizballah’s financial networks, visit the Rewards for Justice website at www.rewardsforjustice.net or contact the Rewards for Justice office via the confidential e-mail at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Today’s action also builds on the unprecedented number of designations taken in 2018 exposing Hizballah’s terrorist support networks and pervasive use of seemingly legitimate businesses to launder money and foment regional conflict. Hizballah and its proxies continue to use deceptive practices to circumvent sanctions, such as the use of family members and others to gain access to the formal financial system both in Lebanon and beyond. As a standard practice, the regulated public should undertake know-your-customer due diligence to ensure awareness of the ultimate beneficiaries of transactions. In cases with known links to designated terrorists, enhanced due diligence should be applied to ensure that the underlying activity is not in violation of U.S. sanctions. The Treasury Department is determined to protect the integrity of the U.S., Lebanese, and international financial system to ensure that Hizballah cannot exploit them to further its political, financial, or operational agenda.

As a result of today’s action, all property and interests in property of these persons, and of any entities that are owned, directly or indirectly, 50 percent or more by the designated persons, that are in the United States or in the possession or control of U.S. persons are blocked and must be reported to OFAC. OFAC’s regulations generally prohibit all dealings by U.S. persons or within (or transiting) the United States that involve any property or interests in property of blocked or designated persons.

Additionally, the two individuals and three entities designated today are subject to secondary sanctions pursuant to the Hizballah Financial Sanctions Regulations, which implements the Hizballah International Financing Prevention Act of 2015. Pursuant to this authority, OFAC can prohibit or impose strict conditions on the opening or maintaining in the United States of a correspondent account or a payable-through account by a foreign financial institution that knowingly facilitates a significant transaction for Hizballah, or a person acting on behalf of or at the direction of, or owned or controlled by, Hizballah.

Hizballah was designated by the Department of State as a Foreign Terrorist Organization in October 1997 and as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist (SDGT) pursuant to E.O. 13224 in October 2001. It was listed in January 1995 in the Annex to E.O. 12947, which targets terrorists who threaten to disrupt the Middle East peace process, and also designated in August 2012 pursuant to E.O. 13582, which targets the Government of Syria and its supporters.

BACKGROUND ON ADHAM TABAJA AND MOHAMMAD BAZZI
OFAC designated Adham Tabaja as an SDGT in June 2015 for providing support and services to Hizballah. Adham Tabaja is a Hizballah member and majority owner of the designated Lebanon-based real estate development and construction firm Al-Inmaa Group for Tourism Works and its subsidiaries. His company has been used by Hizballah as an investment mechanism. He maintains direct ties to senior Hizballah organizational elements, including the terrorist group’s operational component, the Islamic Jihad, the unit responsible for carrying out the group’s overseas terrorist activities. Specifically, Islamic Jihad member Husayn Ali Faour, whom OFAC designated concurrently with Adham Tabaja in June 2015, has worked with Adham Tabaja to secure and manage construction, oil, and other projects in Iraq. Adham Tabaja’s global network of seemingly legitimate businesses combined with his ties to Hizballah’s terrorist unit make it critically important that his access to the international financial system is severed to ensure that he cannot fund this terrorist group.

Adham Tabaja maintains ties to other major Hizballah financiers, including Mohammad Bazzi, whom OFAC designated as an SDGT in May 2018 for assisting in, sponsoring, or providing financial, material, or technological support for, or financial or other services to or in support of, Hizballah. Mohammad Bazzi, who operates or transacts in or through Belgium, Lebanon, Iraq, and several countries in West Africa, provided Hizballah financial assistance for many years and has provided millions of dollars to Hizballah generated from his business activities. In addition, Mohammad Bazzi was a close associate of Yahya Jammeh who was identified on December 20, 2017, in the annex to E.O. 13818, which implemented the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act. Since his designation in May 2018, Mohammad Bazzi has continued to work with other Treasury-designated, senior Hizballah members.

WAEL BAZZI
Wael Bazzi was designated for acting for or on behalf of Mohammad Bazzi.

Since his designation in May 2018, Mohammad Bazzi has turned to his son, Wael Bazzi, to continue doing business in the Gambia. Mohammad Bazzi has been able to conduct business through Wael Bazzi, upon whom he has continued to rely on to register new businesses and bid on Gambian government contracts. Wael Bazzi formed a petroleum company to maintain his father’s access to the oil industry. Additionally, Mohammad Bazzi coordinated with Wael Bazzi and a Belgium-based GTG employee to change GTG’s name after GTG’s designation. Wael Bazzi was the purported owner of this new company, likely to obscure Mohammad Bazzi’s involvement and circumvent Mohammad Bazzi‘s designation.

Wael Bazzi has helped Mohammad Bazzi and a Lebanon-based associate facilitate payments for a business contract. Additionally, Wael Bazzi likely established an account for Voltra Transcor Energy, in connection with Mohammad Bazzi’s attempted use of an intermediary company to move money to GTG and circumvent OFAC sanctions. In 2017, Mohammad Bazzi planned to submit his son, Wael Bazzi, to fill the Lebanese Consular position in the Gambia because he could exert his influence over Wael. As of at least early 2018, Wael Bazzi has been witting of Mohammad Bazzi’s involvement in illicit activity.

On August 9, 2018, GTG changed its name to Energy Engineers Procurement and Construction.

DESIGNATED WAEL BAZZI-OWNED OR -CONTROLLED COMPANIES
Voltra Transcor Energy BVBA
Voltra Transcor Energy BVBA was designated for being owned or controlled by Wael Bazzi.

Wael Bazzi is the Chief Executive of Belgium-based Voltra Transcor Energy BVBA, which is involved in the petroleum products industry. Wael Bazzi established an account for Voltra Transcor Energy, which Mohammad Bazzi attempted to use as an intermediary company to move money to GTG and circumvent OFAC sanctions.

OFFISCOOP NV
OFFISCOOP NV was designated for being owned or controlled by Wael Bazzi.

Wael Bazzi is the Chief Executive, Managing Director, and Director of Belgium-based OFFISCOOP NV, which is involved in the management consulting services industry.

BSQRD Limited
BSQRD Limited was designated for being owned or controlled by Wael Bazzi.

Wael Bazzi is the Chief Executive, Director, and 50% owner of United Kingdom-based BSQRD Limited, which is involved in the computer-related services industry.

HASSAN TABAJA
Hassan Tabaja was designated for acting for or on behalf of Adham Tabaja.

Hassan Tabaja managed multiple properties in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) belonging to his brother, Adham Tabaja; however, in the summer of 2018 Emirati authorities took swift action against Hassan Tabaja and the assets he controlled as a result of his nefarious activities. Hassan Tabaja is the legal representative for Adham Tabaja, has Power of Attorney (PoA) for him, and is named the executor of his property. Accordingly, Hassan Tabaja was granted the power to make legal, real estate, and financial decisions; sign for business matters; buy and sell vehicles; take out loans; take out insurance policies; and cancel the PoA and any agreements in conjunction with and on behalf of Adham Tabaja.

Hassan Tabaja, likely on behalf of Adham Tabaja, has also pursued business transactions with Mohamad Noureddine, a Lebanese money launderer, whom OFAC designated as a SDGT pursuant to E.O. 13224 in January 2016, for providing financial services to or in support of, Hizballah.

View identifying information on the individuals and entities designated today.

 

 

 

Treasury Designates Shipping Network Engaged in Ship-to-Ship Transfers with North Korean Vessels

WASHINGTON . – Today, the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) announced North Korea-related designations of two individuals and three entities, and further identified one vessel as blocked property, continuing the implementation and enforcement of existing sanctions.

This action highlights North Korea’s continued use of illicit ship-to-ship (STS) transfers to circumvent United Nations (UN) sanctions that restrict the import of petroleum products, as well as the U.S. Government’s commitment to implement existing UN Security Council Resolutions (UNSCRs).

“Treasury will implement and enforce existing US and UN sanctions on individuals, entities, and vessels involved in illicit ship-to-ship transfers with North Korean flagged vessels,” said Treasury Under Secretary Sigal Mandelker. “Shipping companies trading with North Korea are exposing themselves to significant sanctions risk, despite the deceptive practices they try to employ.”

OFAC designated Taiwan-based individuals Huang Wang Ken and Chen Mei Hsiang and the Taiwan-based entities Jui Pang Shipping Co Ltd (Jui Pang) and Jui Zong Ship Management Co Ltd (Jui Zong), as well as Hong Kong-based entity Jui Cheng Shipping Company Limited (Jui Cheng), pursuant to Executive Order (E.O.) 13810 for having engaged in at least one significant importation from or exportation to North Korea of any goods, services, or technology.

In addition, OFAC identified the vessel Shang Yuan Bao (IMO: 8126070) as blocked property in which Huang Wang Ken, Chen Mei Hsiang, Jui Pang, Jui Cheng, and Jui Zong all have an interest. In October 2018, the UN Security Council’s 1718 Committee included the Shang Yuan Bao in a port entry ban and designated it for deflagging in response to its involvement in illicit ship-to-ship transfers with DPRK-flagged vessels.

The United States acknowledges and is grateful for Taiwan’s continued efforts to combat the DPRK’s efforts to evade sanctions and to obtain resources for its WMD and missile programs.

North Korea’s Use of Illicit Ship-to-Ship Transfers

North Korea’s continued use of illicit STS transfers to import refined petroleum is in direct violation of UNSCR 2375 and UNSCR 2397. Through STS transfers and other illicit activities, North Korea continues to evade UN sanctions. In addition to STS transfers, North Korea is obtaining refined petroleum through deliveries that are made directly into North Korea from non-DPRK-flagged tankers. These deliveries also are not reported to the UN 1718 Committee by any Member State. The cumulative effect of these deliveries is that the UN 1718 Committee’s official accounting of the DPRK’s imports vastly underrepresents the volume of refined petroleum products that actually enter the DPRK via its fleet of oil tankers and other associated vessels. The restriction on the DPRK’s refined petroleum imports imposed by UN Security Council Resolution 2397 is a critical part of the UN sanctions regime, and the international community must implement and enforce all existing sanctions and take action against those evading these sanctions.

Today’s designated entities participated in STS transfers, a method of transferring cargo from one ship to another while at sea rather than while located in port, to enable North Korea’s import of refined petroleum products. This out-of-port transfer method is a deceptive practice commonly used by North Korea to enable sanctions evasion.

Use of the Shang Yuan Bao to Engage in Illicit Ship-to-Ship Transfers to Evade UN Sanctions

In 2018, the Shang Yuan Bao conducted at least two STS transfers with DPRK-flagged vessels, which both later offloaded their cargo in North Korea’s Nampo port. Between April and May 2018, Huang Wang Ken, the CEO and largest shareholder in Jui Pang, a Taiwan marine cargo handling company, worked with several other individuals to use the Panama-flagged vessel Shang Yuan Bao to transport 1.7 million liters of petroleum products to the UN- and U.S.-designated North Korea-flagged vessel Paek Ma through an STS transfer. Huang and his partners falsely reported that the petroleum products were destined for the Philippines. The Shang Yuan Bao, however, transported them beyond the territorial waters of any state to carry out the STS transfer to the Paek Ma, which was identified February 23, 2018 as property in which Paekma Shipping Co — an entity whose property and interests in property were blocked pursuant to E.O. 13810 also on February 23, 2018 — has an interest. In June 2018, the Shang Yuan Bao carried out an additional STS transfer of petroleum with another North Korea-flagged vessel, the Myong Ryu 1.

OFAC assesses that the persons who owned and controlled the Shang Yuan Bao at the time of the petroleum transfers are ultimately responsible for the petroleum products that were illicitly transferred to the North Korean vessels and ultimately delivered to North Korean territory. This includes Chen Mei Hsiang, who is a member of the board of directors of Jui Pang as well as the director and sole owner of Jui Zong. Chen Mei Hsiang is also married to Huang Wang Ken.

OFAC also designated Taiwan companies Jui Pang and Jui Zong, as well as Hong Kong company Jui Cheng, for engaging in a significant importation from or exportation to North Korea through their ownership and control of the Shang Yuan Bao when it engaged in these STS transfers.

As a result of today’s action, all property and interests in property of these individuals and entities that are in the United States or in the possession or control of U.S. persons must be blocked and reported to OFAC. OFAC’s regulations generally prohibit all dealings by U.S. persons or within the United States (including transactions transiting the United States) that involve any property or interests in property of blocked or designated persons.

In addition, persons that engage in certain transactions with the persons designated today may themselves be exposed to designation. Furthermore, any foreign financial institution that knowingly facilitates a significant transaction or provides significant financial services for any of the individuals designated today could be subject to U.S. correspondent account or payable-through sanctions.

Ocho funcionarios del gobierno venezolano son sancionados por EE.UU.

adancito(EE.UU., VOA).- El gobierno de Estados Unidos sancionó a ocho funcionarios venezolanos vinculados por el establecimiento y organización de la Asamblea Constituyente, la cual considera “antidemocrática” e “ilegítima”.

En esta nueva ronda de sanciones aparece el nombre de Adán Chávez, hermano del fallecido presidente Hugo Chávez, por su papel en la constitución de la Asamblea Nacional Constituyente (ANC).

En el comunicado de la Oficina de Control de Activos Extranjeros (OFAC, por sus siglas en inglés) del departamento del Tesoro de Estados Unidos divulgado el miércoles, se explican las razones por las cuales EE.UU. considera que la Asamblea Constituyente fue elegida bajo un proceso antidemocrático “instigado por el gobierno del presidente venezolano Nicolás Maduro para socavar la voluntad del pueblo venezolano”.

"El presidente Maduro tomó juramento a esta Asamblea Constituyente ilegítima para afianzar aún más su dictadura y continúa estrechando su control sobre el país", dijo el secretario del Tesoro, Steven T. Mnuchin.

Mnuchin insistió en que no se puede aceptar “el desprecio de este régimen por la voluntad del pueblo” y ofreció el respaldo del gobierno estadounidense para luchar contra la “tiranía” hasta lograr que se restaure en Venezuela una “democracia pacífica y próspera”.

El departamento del Tesoro señaló que las designaciones de hoy incluyen a siete funcionarios actuales y antiguos del gobierno venezolano y un individuo que ha participado en acciones o políticas que socavan procesos democráticos o instituciones en Venezuela.

“Como resultado de las acciones de hoy, todos los activos de estas personas sujetas a la jurisdicción de Estados Unidos están congelados, y se prohíbe a los estadounidenses tratar con ellos”, se lee en el comunicado.

El anuncio de los nuevos sancionados se produce una semana después de que Washington incluyera al presidente Nicolás Maduro en su “lista negra” internacional.

La OFAC designó a seis individuos que han desempeñado un papel importante en la organización o creación de la Asamblea Constituyente a través de su participación en dos órganos, la Comisión Presidencial para la ANC y el Comando Constituyente Zamora 200.

Maduro creó la Comisión Presidencial para la formación y operación del proceso de la Constituyente. El presidente venezolano también creó el Comando Constituyente Zamora 200 para llevar a cabo una campaña para las elecciones de la ANC.


Leer: https://www.voanoticias.com/a/eeuu-sanciona-a-ocho-funcionarios-venezolanos-adan-chavez/3978877.html

 

Treasury Labels Bank Providing Financial Services to Hizballah as Specially Designated Global Terrorist

WASHINGTON.- Today, the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) sanctioned Jammal Trust Bank SAL (Jammal Trust), a Lebanon-based financial institution that knowingly facilitates banking activities for Hizballah. Specifically, OFAC designated Jammal Trust as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist (SDGT) pursuant to Executive Order (E.O.) 13224 for assisting in, sponsoring, or providing financial, material, or technological support for, or financial or other services to or in support of, Hizballah. Jammal Trust has a longstanding relationship with a key Hizballah financial entity and provides financial services to Hizballah’s Executive Council and the Iran-based Martyrs Foundation. As part of today’s action, OFAC also designated Jammal Trust’s Lebanon-based subsidiaries Trust Insurance S.A.L., Trust Insurance Services S.A.L., and Trust Life Insurance Company S.A.L., for being owned or controlled by Jammal Trust.

“Treasury is targeting Jammal Trust Bank and its subsidiaries for brazenly enabling Hizballah’s financial activities. Corrupt financial institutions like Jammal Trust are a direct threat to the integrity of the Lebanese financial system. Jammal Trust provides support and services to Hizballah’s Executive Council and the Martyrs Foundation, which funnels money to the families of suicide bombers,” said Sigal Mandelker, Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence. “The U.S. will continue to work with the Central Bank of Lebanon to deny Hizballah access to the international financial system. This action is a warning to all who provide services to this terrorist group.”

Today’s action highlights how Hizballah continues to prioritize its interests, and those of its chief sponsor, Iran, over the welfare of Lebanese citizens and Lebanon’s economy. We regret that Hizballah has brought hardship to the Shia community, in particular, and call upon the Lebanese Government to exert every effort to mitigate the impacts on innocent account holders who did not realize Hizballah was putting their savings at risk. The United States is confident that the Central Bank of Lebanon and other Lebanese institutions, through their legal and regulatory policies and oversight functions, will continue to work to protect the stability and soundness of Lebanon’s financial system, which is critical to supporting a stable and prosperous economy.

The Department of State designated Hizballah as a Foreign Terrorist Organization in October 1997 and as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist (SDGT) pursuant to E.O. 13224 in October 2001. Hizballah was first listed in January 1995 in the Annex to E.O. 12947, which targets terrorists who threaten to disrupt the Middle East peace process, and also designated in August 2012 pursuant to E.O. 13582, which targets the Government of Syria and its supporters.

JAMMAL TRUST BANK SAL

Jammal Trust assists in, sponsors, or provides financial, material, or technological support for, or financial or other services to or in support of, Hizballah.

Jammal Trust knowingly facilitates the banking activities of U.S.-designated entities openly affiliated with Hizballah, Al-Qard al-Hassan and the Martyrs Foundation, in addition to services it provides to Hizballah’s Executive Council. Hizballah has used accounts at Jammal Trust to pay its operatives and their families, and Jammal Trust has actively attempted to conceal its banking relationship with numerous wholly owned Martyrs Foundation subsidiaries. When opening purportedly “personal accounts” at Jammal Trust, Al-Qard al-Hassan officials clearly identified themselves to Jammal Trust as senior members of the terrorist group. Jammal Trust then facilitated these accounts to be used to conduct business on Al-Qard al-Hassan’s behalf. Such a scheme is representative of the deep coordination between Hizballah and Jammal Trust, which dates back to at least the mid-2000s and which spans many of the bank’s branches in Lebanon. Also, Hizballah Member of Parliament Amin Sherri coordinates Hizballah’s financial activity at Jammal Trust with the bank’s management. OFAC designated Amin Sherri in July 2019 for acting for or on behalf of Hizballah pursuant to E.O. 13224.

The Treasury Department designated the Martyrs Foundation, including its U.S. branch, and Al-Qard al-Hassan, under E.O. 13224 in July 2007. The Martyrs Foundation is an Iranian parastatal organization that channels financial support from Iran to several terrorist organizations in the Levant, including Hizballah and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ). Martyrs Foundation branches in Lebanon have also provided financial support to the families of killed or imprisoned Hizballah and PIJ members, including suicide bombers in the Palestinian territories. Additionally, Hizballah used Al-Qard al-Hassan as a cover to manage its financial activity, and it has assumed a prominent role in Hizballah’s financial infrastructure.

TRUST INSURANCE S.A.L.

OFAC designated Trust Insurance S.A.L. (Trust Insurance) for being owned or controlled by Jammal Trust.

In 2001, Trust Insurance and Trust Life Insurance Company S.A.L. became members of the Jammal Trust group, to provide standard insurance products to individuals and institutional clients. Trust Insurance, which was established in 1996, is a subsidiary of Jammal Trust and is 99.42% owned by the bank.

TRUST INSURANCE SERVICES S.A.L.

OFAC designated Trust Insurance Services S.A.L. (Trust Insurance Services) for being owned or controlled by Jammal Trust.

Trust Insurance Services, which was established in 2012, is a subsidiary of Jammal Trust and is 90% owned by the bank.

TRUST LIFE INSURANCE COMPANY S.A.L.

OFAC designated Trust Life Insurance Company S.A.L. (Trust Life) for being owned or controlled by Jammal Trust.

Trust Life, which provides life insurance services, was established in 2001. Trust Life and Trust Insurance products are backed by Jammal Trust. Moreover, Trust Life is a subsidiary of Jammal Trust and is 99.56% owned by the bank.

SANCTIONS IMPLICATIONS

The Treasury Department continues to prioritize disruption of the full range of Hizballah’s illicit financial activity. With this action, OFAC has designated over 50 Hizballah-affiliated individuals and entities since 2017.

As a result of today’s sanctions, all property and interests in property of these targets that are in the United States or in the possession or control of U.S. persons must be blocked and reported to OFAC. OFAC’s regulations generally prohibit all dealings by U.S. persons or within the United States (including transactions transiting the United States) that involve any property or interests in property of blocked or designated persons. In addition, persons that engage in certain transactions with the individuals and entities designated today may themselves be exposed to sanctions or subject to an enforcement action.

The four entities designated today are further subject to secondary sanctions pursuant to the Hizballah Financial Sanctions Regulations, which implements the Hizballah International Financing Prevention Act of 2015, as amended by the Hizballah International Financing Prevention Amendments Act of 2018. Pursuant to this authority, OFAC can prohibit or impose strict conditions on the opening or maintaining in the United States of a correspondent account or a payable-through account by a foreign financial institution that knowingly facilitates a significant transaction for Hizballah, or a person acting on behalf of or at the direction of, or owned or controlled by, Hizballah.

Treasury Sanctions Eight Individuals Involved in Venezuela’s Illegitimate Constituent Assembly

WASHINGTON.- Today, the U.S. Department of the Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) designated eight individuals involved in organizing or otherwise supporting the creation of Venezuela's Constituent Assembly (Asamblea Constituyente or AC) and participating in anti-democratic actions pursuant to Executive Order (E.O.) 13692.

The AC, which seeks to rewrite the Venezuelan constitution and dissolve Venezuelan state institutions, was created through an undemocratic process instigated by Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro's government to subvert the will of the Venezuelan people.

OFAC designated President Maduro on July 31, 2017, the day after AC elections were held. The AC was sworn in on August 4 and, in its first session on August 5, ousted Attorney General Luisa Marvelia Ortega Diaz, who had ordered an investigation into the possible AC election fraud, and replaced her with designated individual Tarek William Saab.

"President Maduro swore in this illegitimate Constituent Assembly to further entrench his dictatorship, and continues to tighten his grip on the country," said Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin. "This regime's disregard for the will of the Venezuelan people is unacceptable, and the United States will stand with them in opposition to tyranny until Venezuela is restored to a peaceful and prosperous democracy."

Today's designations consist of seven current and former officials of the Venezuelan Government and one individual who has participated in actions or policies that undermine democratic processes or institutions in Venezuela. As a result of today's actions, all assets of these individuals subject to U.S. jurisdiction are frozen, and U.S. persons are prohibited from dealing with them.

OFAC designated six individuals who have played a significant role in organizing or creating the AC through their involvement in two bodies, the Presidential Commission for the AC and the Constituent Command Zamora 200. Maduro created the Presidential Commission, which is responsible for creating the main aspects of the formation and operation of the AC process. Maduro also created the Constituent Command Zamora 200 to carry out a campaign for the AC elections. These individuals were also elected as Constituents to the illegitimate AC.

Francisco Jose Ameliach Orta was appointed a member of the Presidential Commission for the AC. He is the AC Constituent for Valencia Municipality in Carabobo State. He was formerly the Governor of Carabobo State.

Adan Coromoto Chavez Frias was appointed the Secretary of the Presidential Commission for the AC. He is the AC Constituent for Barinas Municipality in Barinas State. He was the former Minister of Culture and former Governor of Barinas State. He is the brother of deceased former Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.

Erika del Valle Farias Pena leads the electoral structure and mechanics for the Constituent Command Zamora 200. She is the AC Constituent for Ezequiel Zamora Municipality in Cojedes State. She was formerly the Minister of Urban Agriculture.

Carmen Teresa Melendez Rivas is responsible for coordinating the street government command for the Constituent Command Zamora 200. She is the AC Constituent for Iribarren Municipality in Lara State. She was formerly the Sectoral Vice President of Political Sovereignty, Security, and Peace.

Ramon Dario Vivas Velasco is in charge of the permanent mobilization team for the Constituent Command Zamora 200. He is the AC Constituent for Vargas Municipality in Vargas State. He was formerly a National Assembly Deputy for Vargas State.

Hermann Eduardo Escarra Malave was appointed a member of the Presidential Commission for the AC. He is the AC Constituent for Zamora Municipality in Miranda State.

OFAC also designated today Tania D'Amelio Cardiet, a rector of Venezuela's National Electoral Council (CNE), and Bladimir Humberto Lugo Armas, the Commander of the Special Unit to the Federal Legislative Palace of Venezuela's Bolivarian National Guard. D'Amelio Cardiet has publicly defended the AC and is believed to be among the CNE officials that former Attorney General Luisa Ortega began to investigate for possible AC election fraud.

Lugo Armas is responsible for security of the Federal Legislative Palace, the location of Venezuela's National Assembly.

Lugo Armas has been involved in several acts of violence against National Assembly opposition members, including a direct assault against the President of the National Assembly Julio Borges. In July 2017,

Lugo Armas was charged by the Attorney General's office for alleged human rights violations.

Treasury Targets Chinese Drug Kingpins Fueling America’s Deadly Opioid Crisis

WASHINGTON.- Today, the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) and Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) announced coordinated actions to bring additional financial pressure upon those who manufacture, sell, or distribute synthetic opioids or their precursor chemicals.

OFAC identified Chinese national Fujing Zheng (Zheng) and the Zheng Drug Trafficking Organization (DTO) as significant foreign narcotics traffickers pursuant to the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act (Kingpin Act). OFAC also designated one additional Chinese national, Guanghua Zheng, for his support to the Zheng DTO’s drug trafficking activities, as well as one Chinese entity, Qinsheng Pharmaceutical Co. Ltd., for being owned or controlled by Fujing Zheng. OFAC is also identifying Xiaobing Yan (Yan) as a significant foreign narcotics trafficker pursuant to the Kingpin Act.

“The Chinese kingpins that OFAC designated today run an international drug trafficking operation that manufactures and sells lethal narcotics, directly contributing to the crisis of opioid addiction, overdoses, and death in the United States. Zheng and Yan have shipped hundreds of packages of synthetic opioids to the U.S., targeting customers through online advertising and sales, and using commercial mail carriers to smuggle their drugs into the United States,” said Sigal Mandelker, Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence. “OFAC and FinCEN’s coordinated action with U.S. law enforcement leverages Treasury’s authorities to confront the deadly synthetic opioid crisis plaguing America.”

Also today, FinCEN issued an advisory to alert financial institutions to financial schemes related to the trafficking of fentanyl and other synthetic opioids. Information in the advisory will assist them in detecting and reporting related criminal activity.

“The Bank Secrecy Act data that FinCEN collects, analyzes, and disseminates provides tremendous insight into the illicit financial networks and individuals fueling America’s deadly opioid crisis,” said FinCEN Director Kenneth A. Blanco. “We are making the financial sector aware of tactics and typologies behind illicit schemes to launder the proceeds of these fatal drug sales, including transactions using digital currency and foreign bank accounts. Financial institutions must be on alert to red flags and other indicators of the complex schemes fentanyl traffickers are employing so that financial institutions can report and share relevant information with law enforcement, and ultimately help save lives.”

OFAC Action Targets Massive Narcotics Trafficking Network

In August 2018, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Ohio unsealed a 43-count indictment in federal court in Cleveland, Ohio, charging Fujing Zheng and his father Guanghua Zheng with operating a conspiracy that manufactured and shipped deadly fentanyl analogues, cathinones, and cannabinoids to at least 37 U.S. states and 25 countries.

Directed by Fujing Zheng, the Zheng DTO manufactures and distributes hundreds of controlled substances, including fentanyl analogues such as carfentanil, acetyl fentanyl, and furanyl fentanyl. Zheng created and maintained numerous websites to advertise and sell illegal drugs in more than 35 languages. The Zheng DTO touted its ability to create custom-ordered drugs and avoid detection from customs and law enforcement officials when shipping the drugs through express mail and the U.S. Postal Service. The Zheng DTO also used its chemical expertise to create analogues of drugs with slightly different chemical structures but the same or even more potent effect. The Zheng DTO even agreed to manufacture adulterated cancer medication, creating counterfeit pills that replaced the active cancer-fighting ingredient with dangerous synthetic drugs. The Zheng DTO laundered its drug proceeds in part by using digital currency such as bitcoin, transmitted drug proceeds into and out of bank accounts in China and Hong Kong, and bypassed currency restrictions and reporting requirements.

In September 2017, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Mississippi indicted Xiaobing Yan on two counts of conspiracy to manufacture and distribute multiple controlled substances, including fentanyl, and seven counts of manufacturing and distributing the drugs in specific instances. Yan and his network manufacture and distribute synthetic opioids, cathinones, and cannabinoids, selling directly to U.S. customers in multiple cities across the United States. Yan has tried to evade prosecution by modifying the chemical structure of his synthetic analogues based on his monitoring of legislation and law enforcement activities in the United States and China. Both Zheng and Yan are known to use digital currency (bitcoin), and OFAC is also identifying bitcoin addresses associated with these two drug traffickers to maximize disruption of their financial dealings.

OFAC closely coordinated today’s action with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Ohio, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Mississippi, the Department of Justice’s Criminal Division, the Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) Cleveland and Gulfport offices, and DEA’s Special Operations Division.

As a result of today’s action, all property and interests in property of these individuals and entities that are in the United States or in the possession or control of U.S. persons must be blocked and reported to OFAC. OFAC’s regulations generally prohibit all dealings by U.S. persons or within (or transiting) the United States that involve any property or interests in property of blocked or designated persons.

Since June 2000, more than 2,200 individuals and entities have been named pursuant to the Kingpin Act for their role in international narcotics trafficking. Penalties for violations of the Kingpin Act range from civil penalties of up to $1,503,470 per violation to more severe criminal penalties. Criminal penalties for corporate officers may include up to 30 years in prison and fines up to $5 million. Criminal fines for corporations may reach $10 million. Other individuals could face up to 10 years in prison and fines pursuant to Title 18 of the United States Code for criminal violations of the Kingpin Act.

FinCEN Advisory Highlights Typologies of Fentanyl Traffickers

Fentanyl is sold in the United States in many forms, all of which can be deadly. Fentanyl can be purchased alone; mixed with heroin, cocaine, or methamphetamine; or pressed into pill form and falsely sold as prescription opioids, often being ingested by unsuspecting victims.

FinCEN’s advisory highlights the primary typologies and red flags derived from sensitive financial reporting which are associated with the (i) sale of these drugs by Chinese, Mexican, and other foreign suppliers; (ii) methods used by Mexican and other transnational criminal organizations (TCOs) to launder the proceeds of fentanyl trafficking; and (iii) financial methodologies associated with the sale and procurement of fentanyl over the Internet by purchasers located in the United States.

The FinCEN advisory is being published as a part of a coordinated set of advisories issued by the U.S. Government to address the manufacturing, marketing, movement, and monetary aspects of the trafficking of illicit fentanyl and synthetic opioids. Specifically, the 21st Century Drug Trafficking: Advisories on Fentanyl and Other Synthetic Opioids contains a manufacturing advisory, focusing on the production of illicit fentanyl, which is aimed primarily at companies and businesses that manufacture precursor chemicals, synthetic pharmaceuticals and their support infrastructure.

A marketing advisory further focuses on the use of websites, including social media and darkweb platforms, to market synthetic fentanyl products for sale. The advisory lists red flags, such as web hosting platforms known to host large volumes of this activity and street names commonly used for fentanyl, and gives instructions for reporting any suspected fentanyl marketing activity to law enforcement.

Finally, the movement advisory is directed towards supply chain companies that explains how fentanyl products enter the United States and move domestically to their end users. The most common distribution medium is via the U.S. Postal Service.

These advisories, combined with the FinCEN advisory, which also serves as the monetary advisory on the financial aspects of the illicit trafficking of fentanyl and synthetic opioids, provide information relevant for financial institutions to gain a more comprehensive understanding of the fentanyl crisis and take action to protect the homeland from this deadly threat. The comprehensive 21st Century Drug Trafficking: Advisories on Fentanyl and Other Synthetic Opioids can be viewed here.

When filing a suspicious activity report (SAR), financial institutions should provide all pertinent available information in the SAR form and narrative and reference this advisory using the following key term: “FENTANYL FIN-2019-A006”