OFAC Issues New Kingpin, Terrorist SDN Sanctions

Today the United States Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (“OFAC”) announced two sets of designations. The first targeted the Ibarra Cardona Drug Trafficking Network. The other targeted a hawala operation with alleged ties to the Taliban.

The hawala operation, Rahat Ltd., has branches in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iran which OFAC states have been used by the Taliban to facilitate their illicit financial activities. OFAC also designated the owner of Rahat Ltd, Mohammed Qasim, and the owner and manager of its Quetta, Pakistan branch, Musa Kalim. OFAC believes the hawala operation has been involved in providing financial services to the Taliban’s shadow governor for Helmand Province Barich. Allegedly, these services are used to pay other Taliban commanders to carry out operations in Southern Afghanistan as well and last year $500,000 of Taliban money was deposited in Rahat’s Quetta, Pakistan branch, while hundreds of thousands of dollars in Taliban accounts flowed through Rahat.

The other set of designations targeted five individuals and three entities in Tijuana, Mexico. These parties are alleged to have been involved in the Sinaloa Cartel’s methamphetamine production by providing the Cartel with precursor chemicals needed for meth production.

As is the case with almost all OFAC designations on the Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons List (“SDN List”), any assets falling under U.S. jurisdiction belonging to these parties will be blocked and U.S. persons are prohibited from engaging in transactions with such designated parties.

All of these designations can be challenged under 31 C.F.R. 501.807, the Treasury regulation which outlines the administrative reconsideration process of SDN listings. To effectively challenge a designation under that regulation, the party designated must submit evidence and arguments to show either a case of mistaken identity in the designation, or a change of circumstances sufficient to warrant a delisting. Although, I have assisted a number of parties in being removed from the list, it is often a difficult task and requires a tremendous amount of patience. If any of those parties targeted today wish to seek a reconsideration, they have likely have a long road ahead of them.

The author of this blog is Erich Ferrari, an attorney specializing in OFAC matters. If you have any questions please contact him at 202-280-6370 or ferrari@ferrari-legal.com.

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