Cleveland Manufacturer Violated OFAC Sanctions By Allowing Shipments To Iran - Know Your Customer and Know Their CustomerClient Alert
Between 2013 and 2017, UniControl exported 21 shipments of its products to two European customers. These 21 shipments were subsequently reexported to Iran, which violated the Iranian Transactions and Sanctions Regulations (“ITSR”) listed in 31 CFR Part 560.
UniControl encountered multiple alerts before and during this period and failed to take proper actions. In 2010, several years prior to the first of these shipments, a European trade partner of UniControl inquired whether UniControl could supply a significant market it had identified in Iran. UniControl turned down the opportunity but did not confirm that the sales to this European partner were not then being shipped to the Iranian market.
In 2014, UniControl and a European customer entered a sales agreement that listed Iran as a country to which the partner could re-sell these products. In 2016, UniControl offered to ship products directly to a purported third-party European end user, but the customer refused this offer in an attempt to obfuscate the end user. At European trade conferences, UniControl had direct interactions with Iranian nationals, but did not question their European trade partner on the interest. Finally, UniControl received a request from its European partner to remove the “Made in USA” labels from its products with the explanation that the Iranian end user may have issues with the product origin.
FIXING THE PROBLEM
UniControl consulted with outside counsel and then voluntarily self-disclosed these violations. In total, UniControl engaged in 21 prohibited transactions with a total product value of $687,189. The maximum statutory penalty that UniControl faced was $5,423,766. However, once all mitigating and aggravating factors were weighed, UniControl was able to reach a settlement with OFAC for $216,464.
Parallel to UniControl’s cooperation with OFAC and ceasing all shipments to its European trade partners, the company also righted its own “compliance ship.” This began by retaining outside counsel to strengthen their export control procedures. End-user certificates were created to make sure that buyers are not reselling to prohibited end users. These certificates are also requested from second and third level buyers of reexported products. UniControl added a Destination Control Statement within the footer of many of their trade documents to remind recipients of the restrictions on reselling, transferring, manipulating, or otherwise disposing of their products.