On April 19, the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) announced a $435,003 settlement with an Oklahoma-based steel manufacturer to resolve alleged violations of the Iranian Transactions and Sanctions Regulations. According to OFAC’s accompanying web notice, between 2013 and 2018, the company allegedly engaged with a third-party Iranian engineering company on at least 61 occasions to import engineering services. The company asserted that, while several senior officials “were involved in the process of approving each transaction and issuing checks to the Iranian engineering company,” the company’s “lack of familiarity with U.S. sanctions requirements caused its management to allow the Apparent Violations to continue until a new Chief Executive Officer was hired in October 2018.” Once management learned of the alleged violations, the company stated it ceased working with the Iranian engineering company and took several remedial measures to prevent the conduct from reoccurring.
In arriving at the settlement amount, OFAC considered various aggravating factors, including that (i) the company failed to conduct basic due diligence regarding the transactions with the Iranian engineering company; (ii) senior management “had actual knowledge” that the company was outsourcing work to the Iranian engineering company; and (iii) the conduct caused more than $1 million in benefits to Iran.
OFAC also considered various mitigating factors, including that the company (i) had not received a penalty notice from OFAC in the preceding five years; (ii) voluntarily self-disclosed the alleged violations and cooperated with OFAC’s investigation; (iii) ceased the conduct at issue; and (iv) took remedial measures, including terminating the employee responsible for initiating and overseeing the transactions at issue, and developing and implementing an export compliance policy to provide, among other things, staff training and a requirement that all international contracting opportunities be approved by the company’s president.