top of page

UAE & Turkey warned about sanctions evasion by top US Treasury official

As Washington cracks down on Russian attempts to evade sanctions imposed over its war in Ukraine, the top sanctions official from the US Treasury Department will issue a warning to nations and businesses on a trip to Turkey and the Middle East the following week. If they do business with entities subject to US curbs, they risk losing access to G7 markets.

According to a Treasury statement, Brian Nelson, the undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, will visit Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, and Oman the week of Jan. 29 to meet with businesses and financial institutions and to reaffirm that Washington will continue to vigorously enforce its sanctions.

The department stated that "individuals and institutions operating in permissive jurisdictions risk potentially losing access to G7 markets on account of doing business with sanctioned entities."

Nelson will speak about Iran's destabilizing activity in the region, the risks of illicit finance undermining economic growth, foreign investment, and Treasury's efforts to crack down on Russian efforts to evade sanctions and export controls imposed over its brutal war against Ukraine during the trip, which was first reported by Reuters.

Following numerous warnings from officials last year as Washington increased pressure on Ankara to assure enforcement of U.S. limitations on Russia, the trip represents the most recent travel to Turkey by a top Treasury official to discuss sanctions.

As the two NATO partners differ on a number of subjects, Nelson's visit falls during a time when relations between the United States and Turkey are already fragile.

Washington has recently expressed concern over Turkey's refusal to support Sweden's and Finland's NATO bids, and Ankara is displeased that the acceptance of the two Nordic nations into the alliance is becoming more and more dependent on its request to purchase F-16 fighter jets.

On February 2-3, Nelson will travel to Istanbul, the financial center of Turkey, and Ankara, its capital. According to a Treasury spokesperson who spoke to Reuters on Friday, he will caution companies and banks to stay away from deals involving potential dual-use technology transfers that might eventually be utilized by Russia's military.

Dual-purpose products may be used in both civilian and military settings.

Since the invasion, which resulted in hundreds of deaths and injuries as well as the destruction of Ukrainian cities, Washington and its allies have imposed multiple rounds of sanctions against Moscow.

Turkey has dispatched armed drones to Ukraine and denounced Russia's incursion. It also rejects Western sanctions on Russia and maintains tight ties with both Moscow and Kyiv, two of its neighbors on the Black Sea.

Additionally, it has increased travel and business with Russia. Due to the sanctions, some Turkish businesses have bought or tried to buy Russian assets from Western partners who are pulling out, while other businesses still have significant holdings in Russia.

However, Ankara has vowed that Turkey will not evade international sanctions.

Washington is also concerned about Iranian efforts to circumvent US sanctions.

After accusing prominent Turkish businessman Sitki Ayan of facilitating oil sales and money laundering for Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps, the United States last month imposed sanctions on him and his network of companies.

Nelson would observe the "poor sanctions compliance" in the UAE while there, the official said.

Washington has imposed a number of sanctions on companies with offices in the United Arab Emirates for evading sanctions related to Iran, and on Thursday it designated an aviation company with offices in the UAE for its support of the Wagner Group, a Russian mercenary organization waging war in Ukraine.



bottom of page