Exclusive: A senior US Treasury official warns the UAE and Turkey against evading sanctions

Exclusive: A senior US Treasury official warns the UAE and Turkey against evading sanctions

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Treasury Department’s top sanctions official on a trip to Turkey and the Middle East next week will warn countries and companies that they could lose access to U.S. markets if they do business with entities subject to U.S. restrictions like Washington. Suppressing Russian attempts to evade sanctions imposed because of its war in Ukraine.

Brian Nelson, Undersecretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, will travel to Oman, the United Arab Emirates and Turkey from January 29 to February 3 and meet with government officials as well as businesses and financial institutions to stress that Washington will continue to enforce the law vigorously. A Treasury spokesman told Reuters that its sanctions.

“Individuals and organizations operating in permissive jurisdictions risk losing access to US markets due to dealings with sanctioned entities or failure to conduct appropriate due diligence,” the spokesperson said.

While in the region, Nelson will discuss Treasury Department efforts to suppress Russia’s efforts to evade sanctions and export controls over its brutal war against Ukraine, Iran’s destabilizing activity in the region, illicit financing that threatens to undermine economic growth, and foreign investment.

The visit marks the latest visit by a senior Treasury official to Turkey to discuss sanctions, following a series of warnings last year by Treasury and Commerce officials, as Washington ramped up pressure on Ankara to ensure US restrictions apply to Russia.

Strained relationships

Nelson’s trip coincides with a period of tense relations between the United States and Turkey as the two NATO allies have fallen out over a range of issues.

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Recently, Turkey’s refusal to greenlight NATO bids from Sweden and Finland worried Washington, while Ankara is frustrated that its request for F-16 fighter jets is increasingly linked to whether the two northern countries can join the alliance.

Nelson will visit Ankara, Turkey’s capital, and financial hub Istanbul on February 2-3. The spokesperson said he would warn companies and banks that they should avoid transactions related to potential dual-use technology transfers, which could eventually be used by the Russian military.

Dual-use items can have both commercial and military applications.

Washington and its allies have imposed several rounds of sanctions on Moscow since the invasion, which left thousands dead and wounded and reduced Ukrainian cities to rubble.

Turkey condemned the Russian invasion and sent armed drones to Ukraine. At the same time, it opposes Western sanctions on Russia and has close relations with both Moscow and Kiev, its Black Sea neighbours.

It also boosted trade and tourism with Russia. Some Turkish companies have bought or sought to buy Russian assets from Western partners who withdrew due to sanctions, while others hold large assets in the country.

But Ankara pledged not to circumvent international sanctions in Turkey.

Washington is also concerned about evading US sanctions on Iran.

Last month, the United States imposed sanctions on prominent Turkish businessman Sitke Ayan and his network of companies, accusing him of acting as a facilitator of oil sales and money laundering on behalf of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard.

While in the UAE, the spokesperson said, Nelson would notice “poor compliance with sanctions” in the country.

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Washington slapped a series of sanctions on UAE-based companies for evading Iran-related sanctions, and on Thursday designated an Emirates-based airline for its support of the Russian mercenary company, the Wagner Group, which is fighting in Ukraine.

(This story has been corrected to change the title to the United Arab Emirates and Turkey, not the Middle East; adds Turkey in paragraph 1)

(Covering) By Daphne Psalidakis and Humeyra Pamuk Editing by Don Dorphy and Leslie Adler

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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