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Exxon,Chevron/Texaco wrist slaped for illegal trades w/ Iraq

Oil giants and dozens of other U.S. companies have doled out thousands of dollars to quietly settle government charges of trade violations, including deals with Iraq
WASHINGTON (April 14) - A big-league baseball team, oil giants and dozens of other U.S. companies have doled out thousands of dollars to quietly settle government charges of trade violations, including deals with Iraq and Cuba, according to a watchdog group.
Russell Mokhiber, editor of the legal newsletter Corporate Crime Reporter, accused the Treasury Department Monday of trying to shield these companies and others from the ''glaring light of adverse publicity.'' What few details are being released, he said, are tucked away ''in the bowels of (Treasury's) Web site.''
The actions were brought by Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control, which helps enforce sanctions against terrorists, drug dealers and foreign countries - such as Cuba, Iran, Iraq and North Korea - that the United States doesn't want companies doing business with.
As a result of litigation filed on his behalf by the watchdog group Public Citizen, Mokhiber said, the office last year released details on more than 300 cases. This month OFAC released information on 59 more cases.
Among the allegations and settlements, according to Corporate Crime Reporter:
-Chevron/Texaco paid about $14,000 for allegedly violating rules governing trade with Iraq.
-For alleged trade with Cuba, the New York Yankees paid the government $75,000; Wal-Mart paid $50,000; ESPN paid about $39,000; and Caterpillar paid $18,000.
-Exxon Mobil paid $50,000 and Wells Fargo $5,500 for alleged trade with Sudan.
AP-NY-04-14-03 2244EDT
Copyright 2003 The Associated Press.

adap2k 15.Apr.2003 02:38


Last Updated: Tuesday, 15 April, 2003, 07:11 GMT 08:11 UK
US fines sanction busting companies
Some of the best known
No reasons are given for the fines
US corporations have been fined by the Treasury for busting sanction laws to trade with countries like Iraq and North Korea.
Among the 59 companies fined a total of more than $1.1m were Amazon, Bank of New York, Caterpillar, ChevronTexaco, Citibank, ExxonMobil and WalMart.
The fines range from $500 to $250,000 against Zim American Israeli Shipping, which is nearly half-owned by the state of Israel and is one of the world's largest container shipping companies.
The Treasury does not give details of who the companies traded with or a reason for the size of the fine.
The Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control (Ofac) enforces the US government's sanctions against terrorists, drug dealers and foreign countries and is responsible for freezing the US assets of suspects.
Treasury criticism
The release of the settlements on 4 April has been criticised for the lack of publicity and detail from the Treasury.
Countries with US sanctions
North Korea
Sierra Leone
"From the beginning, Ofac's enforcement has been shrouded in secrecy," said Russell Mokhiber, the editor of legal newsletter Corporate Crime Reporter.
Corporate Crime Reporter and the advocacy group Public Citizen sued the Treasury under the Freedom of Information Act for the release of the information.
"Significantly, Ofac has resisted providing a meaningful description of the conduct that underlies these sanctions, the settlements proposed by the alleged offenders, and the reasoning behind Ofac's decision to impose a particular penalty, or settle for a given amount," Michael Tankersley, an attorney with Public Citizen said.
Famous case
The accountability of Ofac has long been questioned and highlighted by some recent cases.
Ofac was responsible for freezing the funds of Saudi businessman Salah Idris, whose El Shifa pharmaceutical factory in Sudan was destroyed by 13 US cruise missiles in 1998 for, it was alleged, making chemical weapons for Osama Bin Laden.
Even though Mr Idris did not appear on any Ofac list, about $24m held in Bank of America accounts was frozen and only released 18 months later when he sued the US Treasury.
By releasing the money, the US government effectively cleared Mr Idris of the terrorism charges.
The US Treasury has never explain how Mr Idris could have had his assets frozen by Ofac without appearing on their list and has not offered an apology or compensation.
Treasury Department Accused of 'Secret Settlements'
By Jeff Johnson
CNSNews.com Congressional Bureau Chief
April 15, 2003
Capitol Hill (CNSNews.com) - Ralph Nader's Public Citizen's Litigation Group said Monday that the Treasury Department office tasked with ensuring that American companies do not do business in countries considered enemies of the U.S. is withholding information from the public to protect businesses that violate the law.
The U.S. Department of Commerce's Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS, formerly known as the Bureau of Export Administration) is responsible for regulating the export of "sensitive" technologies and products that could be used militarily or for commercial advantage by enemies of the U.S. Visitors to that agency's website can click on a link entitled "News" to find a list of press releases detailing various enforcement actions BIS has taken against U.S. companies that have violated export control laws.
"Illinois Company Fined $65,000" and "Two Swiss Companies Settle Charges of Attempted Exports to Iran"
 link to www.cnsnews.com
are typical headlines of reports detailing the names of the companies involved and the violations for which they have been fined. The documents also include extensive details about the violations, naming the country or countries to which the violator illegally exported and the amount of fines paid or other sanctions.
Visitors to the website of the Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Asset Control (OFAC) face a very different journey if they seek information on U.S. companies fined or otherwise sanctioned for violations of the Trading with the Enemy Act - which imposes sanctions against Cuba and North Korea - or the International Emergency Economic Powers Act - which penalizes trading with or transferring assets to Burma, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Sierra Leone, the Sudan, the Taliban in Afghanistan, foreign narcotics traffickers or foreign terrorists.
Prior to February of 2002, OFAC apparently released no information about the fines it assessed American companies or the settlements it entered into with them as a result of violations of U.S. trade laws. Nader's Public Citizen's Litigation Group (PCLG) sued the agency under the federal Freedom of Information Act on behalf of the Corporate Crime Reporter (CCR), a weekly newsletter published in Washington.
As a result of that lawsuit, OFAC began posting heavily redacted versions of "Civil Penalty Related Documents" on its website.
Michael Tankersley, an attorney with PCLG, described the OFAC civil enforcement program as "shrouded in secrecy" because of the agency's unwillingness to release information.
"They are not providing any meaningful disclosure of the conduct that's involved in these various offenses," he said. "They're not providing disclosure of what settlements were offered by the companies who were cited.
"And they're not providing any disclosure about the reasoning behind the decision to impose a particular penalty," Tankersley added.
While PCLG and CCR were unhappy with the redacted "Settlement Memoranda" OFAC posted on its website beginning in February of 2002, they are even less pleased with the agency's latest move.
OFAC stopped posting the redacted memoranda in September of 2002. No documents were posted between then and April 4, 2003. On that date, the agency began releasing only a chart with a one-line listing for each case, as opposed to the redacted memoranda released in the past.
"First of all, OFAC buries this chart in its website so that it's really hard to find, and I think the result is that there's been no press to any of these cases, and most of them have been up for more than 10 days now," said Russell Mokhiber, editor of CCR.
"Second, it's really hard to figure out what exactly is going on here," he continued. "We have no details."
The chart to which Mokhiber referred is displayed as an Adobe Acrobat document file four levels past the OFAC home page.
The name and address of the violator, a code for the executive order or federal law violated and another code for a brief description of the violation committed are provided. There is no key provided with the chart as to which foreign countries are covered by which section of the Code of Federal Regulations or executive order.
Whether a company voluntarily disclosed the violation, the amount paid to the government and whether the money was a fine or a voluntary settlement are also disclosed. No additional information is given.
"OFAC should make these records, including the redacted portions, available immediately without waiting to be asked," Tankersley said. "The public has a right to know the reasoning behind the agency's decisions in these cases so that it can evaluate whether the program is being properly administered."
Tankersley said Monday that he is confident the information will eventually be released, even if only as the result of a federal court order. Until then, he said, the public will just have to wait to be fully informed.
Calls to the U.S. Department of Treasury Office of Foreign Assets Control's public affairs division seeking a response to this report were not returned.

Iraq Sanction Violators Paid U.S. Treasury $726,000
Mon April 14, 2003 06:49 PM ET

By Jonathan Nicholson
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Treasury has quietly collected more than $726,000 in recent years from companies to settle allegations they violated sanctions against doing business in Iraq, according to Treasury records.
The latest settlement involved San Ramon, California-based oil company ChevronTexaco Corp. and was disclosed by the Treasury Department on April 4, with a list of settlements involving other economic sanctions programs.
Other companies that have paid money in recent years to Treasury in connection with the Iraq sanctions include Tyson Foods and Chase Manhattan Bank.
The payments have ranged from as small as about $9,000, in the case of ChevronTexaco, to as much as $244,250, in the case of GRE Insurance Group and Albany Insurance Co.
The payments were made to the Treasury's shadowy Office of Foreign Assets Control, which enforces U.S. trade sanctions against a variety of countries, such as Iraq and Cuba. The office, known by its acronym OFAC, is responsible for freezing the U.S. assets of suspected global terrorists.
But while the Treasury Department has widely publicized OFAC's efforts to stop terror financing, information on companies that have run afoul of U.S. sanctions against rogue nations has been more closely guarded.
Earlier this month, OFAC began publishing on the Web a weekly list of companies with which it had reached settlements or had assessed a monetary penalty for alleged sanctions violations. The move came after it released several big batches of documents in autumn 2002 in response to a lawsuit brought by an advocacy group, Public Citizen, and Russell Mokhiber, editor of Corporate Crime Watch, a Washington, D.C.-based newsletter.
In ChevronTexaco's case, the company voluntarily disclosed the alleged violation to Treasury, though Treasury officials declined to discuss the details of specific cases.
Fred Gorell, a spokesman for ChevronTexaco, said the incident occurred in 2000, when the company reimbursed a third party for about $18,000 it paid in port fees as part of a U.N.-Iraq oil-for-food deal in which it was involved. Gorell said the company later became aware that the payee to whom the port fee was paid was not an authorized payee under the United Nations program and told OFAC about the violation. Despite the violation, Gorell said ChevronTexaco is serious about obeying trade sanctions.
"We are constantly reviewing our operations to ensure we're fully in compliance," he said.
Other cases have ranged from alleged violations involving fund transfers to the shipment of oil-rig parts. In Chase Manhattan's case, it paid $28,585 to settle a case connected to a 1999 funds transfer. Tyson Foods paid $150,000 to settle its case involving the 1996 sale and export of frozen chicken parts to Iraq.
The largest Iraq-related settlement involved GRE Insurance Group & Albany Insurance Group, which paid $244,250 to settle a case in which it had provided insurance coverage for seven cargo shipments from Iraq to Libya between 1991 and 1995.
The second-largest payment came from ERC Industries Inc., also known as Wood Group Pressure Control, which Treasury said had shipped oil-rig parts worth $734,060 to Iraq in 1999. It paid $171,055 to settle. Johnson & Johnson Medical Supplies, Middle East, paid a $110,000 settlement to deal with its 1998-1999 export of medical equipment to Iraq. Except for ChevronTexaco, all settlements were reached before April 2002.
Treasury's new weekly listing of settlements and assessments has not satisfied Treasury's critics, though.
At a news conference on Monday, Michael Tankersley, an attorney with Public Citizen, said OFAC should make more detailed records available, instead of simply a list.
"The public has a right to know the reasoning behind this agency's decisions in these cases so it can evaluate whether the program is being properly administered," Tankersley said.
A Treasury spokesman, speaking on condition of anonymity, said OFAC's weekly release reflects a commitment to openness.
"This is part of an effort to have open and transparent information available to the public," the spokesman said.

more 15.Apr.2003 02:52


April 14 - Companies fined for trading with enemy protected from public eye
ChevronTexaco trading with Iraq. The New York Yankees, Wal-Mart, ESPN and Caterpillar trading with Cuba. ExxonMobil and Wells Fargo trading with Sudan.
These companies are among 59 companies that have settled charges of trading with the enemy brought by the Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC). The settlements were released over the past two weeks.
Russell Mokhiber, editor of Corporate Crime Reporter, and Michael Tankersley, attorney with the Public Citizen Litigation Group, today publicized the information about the violating corporations and the secrecy that surrounds OFAC enforcement.


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