9 July 2014

Sudan: U.S. Scrutinises German Banks Over Dealing With Sudan

Washington — US authorities have begun settlement talks with Germany's Commerzbank and the Deutsche Bank over their dealings with countries blacklisted by the USA.

The talks with state and federal authorities have just begun, a source with direct knowledge of the regulatory investigations told Reuters. Both German banks declined to comment.

The Commerzbank is accused by US authorities of transferring money through its US operations on behalf of companies in Iran and Sudan, and could be fined with at least $500 million in penalties, the New York Times said. According to the newspaper, a deal could be struck this summer, which could pave the way for an agreement with the Deutsche Bank.

Washington has come down hard on European banks that have evaded their sanctions, imposing a record fine on France's BNP Paribas last week of $2.6 billion. US officials said that the fine size reflected the extent of the wrongdoing. BNP employees concealed more than $190 billion in transactions between 2002 and 2012 for companies, governments, and other clients in Sudan, Iran, and Cuba.

US sanctions on Sudan

The US sanctions on Sudan annually cost the country $745 million, according to the head of the opposition Umma Party, El Sadig El Mahdi.

El Mahdi said during the Global Forum for Moderation in Amman on Monday, that Sudan was allocated $350 million under the Cotonou agreement, but it was frozen because of the sanctions. "The continuation of Al Bashir's regime in power prevents Sudan from obtaining relief from its debt burden, estimated at about $44 billion, and cripples the country economically", El Mahdi stressed.

The USA first introduced sanctions against Sudan in November 1997, prohibiting all transactions by US nationals relating to Sudan's petroleum or petrochemical industries, including oilfield services and oil or gas pipelines.

Darfur, South Kordofan, Blue Nile, Abyei, Darfur, and marginalised areas in and around Khartoum are exempted. Trade and humanitarian assistance in these regions should not involve Sudan's petroleum or petrochemical industries, or any property or interests in property of the Sudanese government.

The sanctions were expanded in May 2007 in response to the Sudanese government's continued complicity in violence in Darfur. They blocked assets of Sudanese implicated, and embargoed additional companies owned or controlled by the Sudanese government. The sanctions continue to underscore US efforts to end the suffering of millions of Darfuris affected by the war.


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