After the US Treasury Department released satellite images purporting to show Chinese ships transferring oil to a North Korea-flagged vessel in blatant violation of UN Security Council sanctions, the US is pressing for 10 ships, several of them Chinese, to be added to the list of entities banned by the UN. But there’s one problem: China, which like the US holds a permanent veto over UN Security Council decisions, is pushing back. It says it will only accept sanctions on four ships, according to the Wall Street Journal. While there’s some skepticism about how well these rules are enforced, UN sanctions would require members to bar blacklisted ships from their ports. A Security Council resolution passed last week gives member states more authority to seize the ships that have breached international sanctions and ban them from their ports. And the satellite images mentioned above have shown just how easily North Korea has managed to circumvent sanctions managed to restrict energy flowing into the country while also choking off its exports of North Korean coal.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Fri, 12/29/2017 –.
Hurricane Harvey may solve the auto industry’s inventory problem. But right now, it’s about to create a giant headache for the federal government. Based on the latest estimates from Irvine, California-based CoreLogic, insured flood losses for homes in the affected areas of Texas and Louisiana could total between $6.5 billion to $9.5 billion. Since private insurers typically don’t provide personal flood insurance, all but $500 million of that will fall to the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s National Flood Insurance Program, or NFIP. *** According to the Street, if insured damages reach the high end of this range, it would totally deplete the $7.5 billion of cash and available credit available to the 49-year-old government program, which provides about 98% of residential flood insurance. The program is already about $25 billion in debt to the US Treasury Department and would need Congressional authorization for additional funding. To be sure, final totals could be much, much higher given the severity of the the ‘1-in-1000-year’ flood. The potential funding shortfall could create problems if Congress doesn’t act quickly this month to shore up the financially-troubled flood-insurance program. As we’ve reported, Congress already has a full agenda in September – a month where lawmakers must pass a funding bill to keep the government open, and another to raise the debt limit and stave off a technical default on US debt. Initially, President Trump said he would force a government shutdown if Congress didn’t approve funding for his border wall in its next budget. However, it appears that he has backed away from this, as the Washington Post reported today that the administration has quietly notified Congress that the $1.6 billion in wall funding would not need to be included in the September continuing resolution.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Sep 2, 2017.
Yesterday, the Trump administration slapped a new round of sanctions on Chinese and Russian entities accused of aiding the North Korean nuclear program. The Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control said it would target 10 entities and six individuals who help already sanctioned people to aid North Korea’s missile program, or who “deal in the North Korean energy trade.” Predictably, the Russian and Chinese government’s were less than pleased, with spokespeople for both governments claiming the sanctions are illegitimate because they were not approved by the United Nations. *** A representative for the Russian government meanwhile promised that a “response” is in the works,” according to Russia Today. Just like China, which immediately slammed the Trump administration, demanding that the “mistake” be fixed asap, the Russian government is just as angry with this latest round of sanctions and, as they have done many times in the recent past, the Russians threatened retaliation. Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov issued a statement expressing disappointment, and warning Washington that Russia was working on a response. ‘Against such a depressing backdrop, the lip service from American representatives about the desire to stabilize bilateral relations is extremely unconvincing,’ Ryabkov said. ‘We have always and will always support resolving our existing differences through dialogue. In recent years, Washington in theory should have learned that for us the language of sanctions is unacceptable, and the solutions to real problems are only hindered by such actions. So far, however, there doesn’t seem to be an understanding of such obvious truths.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Aug 23, 2017.
The United States has now unveiled new sanctions against 16 Chinese and Russian individuals and entities. The treasury department is coming up with new sanctions on the Chinese as a way to pressure North Korea into giving up their nuclear program. The Treasury department claims they are cracking down on those who are aiding North Korea’s missile program and that includes Russia. Apparently desperate to start a war with the former Soviet Union, the United States is also sanctioning Russians. The Treasury Department on Tuesday said it would target 10 entities and six individuals who help already sanctioned people who aid North Korea’s missile program or ‘deal in the North Korean energy trade.’ The U. S. also aims to sanction people and groups that allow North Korean entities to access the U. S. financial system or helps its exportation of workers, according to the Treasury. ‘Treasury will continue to increase pressure on North Korea by targeting those who support the advancement of nuclear and ballistic missile programs, and isolating them from the American financial system,’ Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a statement. ‘It is unacceptable for individuals and companies in China, Russia, and elsewhere to enable North Korea to generate income used to develop weapons of mass destruction and destabilize the region.’ -CNBC
The Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) has personally sanctioned Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, adding him to the list of specially designated nationals, freezing any U. S. assets he may have and generally blocking U. S. persons from transactions involving him. Today’s sanction is a follow up to last week’s announcement by the Trump administration in which the Treasuey revealed sanctions on 13 senior Venezuelan officials in an attempt to deter Maduro from moving forward with plan to rewrite Venezuela’s constitution in what opponents regard as a potential power grab move. Needless to say, that particular attempt failed. Today’s escalation comes in response to this weekend’s election which gives Venezuela’s ruling party new, sweeping powers. State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert charges the new assembly formed from this election ‘is designed to replace the legitimately elected National Assembly and undermine the Venezuelan people’s right to self-determination.’ From the Treasury Department:
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Jul 31, 2017.
The Trump administration has asked Beijing to impose what would be the first round of sanctions against nearly 10 Chinese companies and individuals that trade with North Korea, part of a strategy to starve, and ultimately shut down, Kim’s nuclear program, the WSJ reports. Recall that while U. S. sanctions on North Korea target virtually the nation’s entire economy; U. N. sanctions are less stringent and still allow for significant nonmilitary trade, especially between the isolated nation and its biggest trading partner, China. While there is no firm deadline, senior US officials cited as sources by WSJ indicated that the Treasury Department could impose unilateral sanctions on some of these entities before the end of the summer if Beijing doesn’t act. The Journal did not name the entities being targeted, however clues to their identities can be found in a report released Monday by a Washington-based nonpartisan research group, C4ADS, that identifies several Chinese entities of concern in the hopes of exposing illicit trading networks. Those include a Chinese businessman and his sister said to be connected to a ship intercepted by Egypt last year while smuggling 30,000 North Korean rocket-propelled grenades. US officials told WSJ that the report reflects part of its strategy towards North Korea.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Jun 12, 2017.
This week I will be in Washington, D. C., attending Evercore ISI’s Energy Policy & Geopolitics Conference, where I will be visiting senior staff from the White House infrastructure team and House Energy and Commerce Committee. I will also be meeting with John Fagan, head of the Treasury Department’s Markets Room, and Robin Dunnigan, the Bureau of Energy Resource’s Deputy Assistant Secretary for Energy Diplomacy. Among the topics of discussion will include energy independence, legal and policy issues impacting the energy sector, tax reform and geopolitical risks in Syria, Russia and Iran. I want to extend my gratitude for this opportunity to Evercore ISI chairman Ed Hyman, who was ranked as the top economist by Institutional Investor magazine for 35 straight years, from 1980 to 2014. I’ll have much to share with our investment team when I return. Let’s Get Fiscal Last FridayPresident Donald Trump tweeted his frustration with the ‘ridiculous standard of the first 100 days,’ claiming that no matter what he accomplishes during this period, the ‘media will kill’ it.
This post was published at GoldSeek on Tuesday, 25 April 2017.
Two weeks after launching missile strikes on Syria, the U. S. Treasury announced it has sanctioned 271 employees of Syria’s Scientific Studies and Research Center in response to the alleged sarin attack conducted by the Assad regime on Kahn Sheikhoun. It’s one of the largest sanction actions in U. S. history. The action was announced in a statement by the Treasury Department, and Treasury Security Steve Mnuchin simultaneously briefed reporters at the White House. The action – which takes place in lieu of a probe demanded by Russia and Syria to determine if Assad was indeed responsible for the recent sarin attack – freezes the individuals’ U. S. assets – which we doubt exist – and generally prohibits U. S. persons from dealing with them The sanctioned employees “have expertise in chemistry and related disciplines and/or have worked in support of SSRC’s chemical weapons program since at least 2012′ said Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, and added that “These sweeping sanctions target the scientific support center for Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad’s horrific chemical weapons attack on innocent civilian men, women, and children.”
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Apr 24, 2017.
The evidence is overwhelming and indisputable at this point. Donald Trump is a phony, who has given his administration over to Wall Street crooks even more enthusiastically than his predecessors, and his predecessors were very enthusiastic. I’ve written about this many times, and I warned throughout the campaign that my biggest fear was Trump is far too cozy with the finance industry, fake populist statements aside. His latest hire for the number two position at the Treasury Department once again proves the point. As David Dayen reports in his excellent article at The Intercept, Donald Trump Isn’t Even Pretending to Oppose Goldman Sachs Anymore: The continuity of Wall Street’s dominant role in American politics – regardless of what party sits in power or how reviled the financial industry finds itself across the country – was perhaps never more evident than when Jake Siewert, now a Goldman Sachs spokesperson, on Tuesday praised the selection of Jim Donovan, a Goldman Sachs managing director, for the No. 2 position in the Treasury Department under Steve Mnuchin, himself a former Goldman Sachs partner.
In a 10-K filed on Friday afternoon, Amazon disclosed that certain transactions and business ties with Iran may have violated U. S. sanctions, warning that it may be penalized after a regulatory review of the activities. In the “Other Contingencies” section of its 10-K, Jeff Bezos’ company had determined that, between January 2012 and December 2016 it had “processed and delivered orders of consumer products for certain individuals and entities located outside Iran covered by the Iran Threat Reduction and Syria Human Rights Act or other United States sanctions and export control laws. The consumer products included books, music, other media, apparel, home and kitchen, health and beauty, jewelry, office, consumer electronics, software, lawn and patio, grocery, and automotive products.” The world’s biggest online retailer also said that it has “voluntarily reported these orders to the United States Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control and the United States Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security.” and said it will cooperate with a review by the agencies, “which may result in the imposition of penalties.”
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Feb 11, 2017.
Following the escalation on Friday morning, in which the US Treasury Department published a list of 13 Iranian individuals and 12 Iranian entities facing new restrictions following Iran’s recent ballistic missile test, Tehran promptly denounced the latest round of sanctions imposed by the US and said it would retaliate – something it has previously said it would do – however added a new twist when Tehran announced it would impose legal restrictions on American individuals and entities helping “regional terrorist groups”, a Foreign Ministry statement read as quoted by TV. For obvious reasons, this naming and shaming of US-based terrorists promises to be far more interesting than if Iran were to actually ban, say, the US national chess team. Such an action will quickly coalesce the world’s attention on a handful of US entities, putting under a microscope all of their offshore activities. “The new sanctions … are not compatible with America’s commitments and resolution 2231 of the U. N. Security Council that endorsed the nuclear deal reached between Iran and six powers,” the Iranian Foreign Ministry statement said late on Friday. Tehran said it will react accordingly to any U. S. measure aimed at the Iranian nation’s interests. “In retaliation for the U. S. sanctions, Iran will impose legal restrictions on some American individuals and entities that were involved in helping and founding regional terrorist groups,” the Foreign Ministry statement said. It said names of the entities and individuals would be announced later, although it was not clear when exactly that is.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Feb 3, 2017.
Those of us who were paying attention during the election and debates already know that Trump, who aimed to be the most pro-Israel presidential candidate in the history of America, has been beating the war drums against Iran since well before he won the election. Iran is, of course, one of the last big dominoes that has to fall to get to Russia on the Risk world hegemony board. But things are moving so quickly on that front, it’s hard to keep up these days. It’s only been two weeks since Trump was inaugurated, and just yesterday the president and his staff already ‘put Iran on notice’ (see here and here). Wasting no time at all, today Trump has released fresh sanctions on Iran which have already been condemned by Russia as ‘counter productive’. And it isn’t just Iran. Via Bloomberg: In a statement Friday morning, the Treasury Department published a list of 13 individuals and 12 entities facing new restrictions for supporting the missile program, having links to terrorism or providing support for Iran’s hard-line Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. The entities include companies based in Tehran, United Arab Emirates, Lebanon and China.
The U. S. imposed fresh sanctions on Iran as President Donald Trump seeks to punish Tehran for its ballistic missile program after warning the Islamic Republic that it is ‘playing with fire.” As Bloomberg reports, the Treasury Department published a list of 13 individuals and 12 entities facing new restrictions, some for contributing to proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and others for links to terrorism. The reaction is clear – USD extending its losses and crude rallying… Meanwhile, RIA is reporting that Russian foreign ministry officials have remarked that “sanctions against Iran are counter-productive.” The following individuals have been added to OFAC’s SDN List: AL-HAJJ, Yahya (a.k.a. AL-HAJ, Yahya; a.k.a. AL-HAJ, Yehia Issa Mohamad); DOB 23 May 1959; POB Aramta, Lebanon; Additional Sanctions Information – Subject to Secondary Sanctions; Gender Male; Passport RL 2544590 (Lebanon) issued 07 Jun 2013 expires 07 Jun 2018 (individual) [SDGT] [IRGC] [IFSR]. ASGHARZADEH, Abdollah; DOB 16 Sep 1968; Additional Sanctions Information – Subject to Secondary Sanctions (individual) [NPWMD] [IFSR]. DARIAN, Tenny (a.k.a. SHAKHDARIAN, Tenny); DOB 06 Sep 1979; POB Tehran, Iran; citizen Iran; Additional Sanctions Information – Subject to Secondary Sanctions; Passport B23545963 expires 05 Mar 2017 (individual) [NPWMD] [IFSR]. EBRAHIMI, Hasan Dehghan (a.k.a. IBRAHIMI, Hasan Dahqan); DOB 21 Mar 1961; POB Dezfool, Iran; Additional Sanctions Information – Subject to Secondary Sanctions; Gender Male; Passport U19707756 (Iran) issued 12 May 2011 expires 11 May 2016 (individual) [SDGT] [IRGC] [IFSR]. FARHAT, Muhammad ‘Abd-al-Amir (a.k.a. FARHAT, Mohammad; a.k.a. FARHAT, Mohammad Abdul Amir); DOB 23 Aug 1969; POB Kuwait; Additional Sanctions Information – Subject to Secondary Sanctions; Gender Male; Passport RL 2325452 (Lebanon) expires 31 Jul 2017 (individual) [SDGT] [IRGC] [IFSR].
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Feb 3, 2017.
Just moments ago, when reporting on the latest Putin comment involving the recent flaring up of violence in Eastern Ukraine, we said that “the biggest question remains unanswered: what side of the Ukraine-Russian conflict will the new US State Department under Rex Tillerson side with, and will Trump slam the alleged Russian violence as his predecessor was so quick to do on virtually every single occasion.” We may have just gotten the answer, because moments ago the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control, under Rex Tillerson, posted a Russia-related general license notice on its website, according to which US authorities eased sanctions against Russia’s Federal Security Service – the successor agency to the USSR’s KGB – pertaining to licenses and permits for information technology products in Russia. According to the license, “all transactions and activities” with participation of the Russian Federal Security Service, prohibited earlier by executive orders of the US President, are authorized with certain exceptions. Also related to ‘transactions necessary and ordinarily incident to comply with rules and regulations administered by, and certain actions or investigations involving, the FSB,’ according to Treasury website.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Feb 2, 2017.
Full out war between Democrats and the White House broke out today when Senate Democrats on Tuesday refused to attend a committee vote on two President Trump’s more controversial nominees, effectively delaying their consideration. Democrats on the Senate Finance Committee boycotted votes to advance Tom Price, Trump’s pick to head the Department of Health and Human Services, and Steven Mnuchin, his selection to head the Treasury Department. Since at least one democrat must be on present for the vote to be held, the move will effectively delay and potentially prevent the confirmation votes on Mnuchin and Price. The duo is among some of the more contentious selections to join Trump’s Cabinet. Democrats walked out of the Senate Finance Committee hearing room, arguing that Mnuchin and Price misled senators in their testimony before the panel, and saying they could not allow a vote to proceed without more information. Minutes before the scheduled vote on the pair, democrats said they refused to enter the hearing room until they get answers to their questions about Price’s stock purchase in an Australian biotechnology company. “At a minimum, I believe the committee should postpone this vote” and have an opportunity to talk to officials at the biotech company, Sen. Ron Wyden, the top Democrat on the committee, told reporters. He said they’ll be willing to move forward on Price and Treasury nominee Steven Mnuchin only after their questions are answered, especially on Price, whom Wyden suggested hasn’t been “straight” with the committee. Both Price and Mnuchin had been targeted fiercely by Democrats on a range of ethical issues. Price was pressed on his investment activity in various medical companies, and whether he improperly mixed his political activity with his personal portfolio. Mnuchin’s time at the head of OneWest Bank, and whether it treated homeowners facing foreclosure fairly, was central to his testimony.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Jan 31, 2017.
Wednesday’s post, Donald Trump Has an Enormous and Very Dangerous Wall Street Blind Spot, highlighted the fact that the bank run by Trump’s Treasury Secretary nominee, Steven Mnuchin, was given a pass by California attorney general Kamala Harris, despite the discovery of over a thousand legal violations. Kamala Harris has since been (s)elected to the U. S. Senate. Let’s recap some of what we learned: In the memo, the leaders of the state attorney general’s Consumer Law Section said they had ‘uncovered evidence suggestive of widespread misconduct’ in a yearlong investigation. In a detailed 22-page request, they identified over a thousand legal violations in the small subsection of OneWest loans they were able to examine, and they recommended that Attorney General Kamala Harris file a civil enforcement action against the Pasadena-based bank. They even wrote up a sample legal complaint, seeking injunctive relief and millions of dollars in penalties.
But Harris’s office, without any explanation, declined to prosecute the case. Sen. Ron Wyden, the top Democrat on the Senate Finance Committee, warned: ‘Given Mr. Mnuchin’s history of profiting off the victims of predatory lending, I look forward to asking him how his Treasury Department would work for Americans who are still waiting for the economic recovery to show up in their communities.’
Hard to fathom only months ago, the lifting of U.S. sanctions against Russia is all but certain for most economists. The U.S. will start easing its penalties, imposed over the showdown in Ukraine in 2014, during the next 12 months, according to 55 percent of respondents in a Bloomberg survey, up from 10 percent in an October poll. Without the restrictions, Russia’s economic growth would get a boost equivalent to 0.2 percentage point of gross domestic product next year and 0.5 percentage point in 2018, according to the median estimates in the poll. Donald Trump’s surprise election in November is feeding expectations of a sea change in U.S. policy even after the European Union this week rolled over its economic penalties against Russia for an additional six months. While Trump has given no indication of how he plans to follow up on promises to mend ties with Russia, his chief of staff this month didn’t confirm if the restrictions will be kept. Meanwhile, the U.S. Treasury Department on Monday added more people and entities to its existing sanctions. ‘It’s still a toss-up whether the U.S. will ease sanctions quickly, with the EU lagging, but the direction of travel is toward easier sanctions or less enforcement, which could reduce financing costs,’ said Rachel Ziemba, the New York-based head of emerging markets at 4CAST-RGE. ‘We think the macro impact would be greater in the medium term than short term as it facilitates a rate easing trend that is already on course. In the longer term, it gives more choice of investment.’
Wall Street On Parade’s strong preference for a President Bernie Sanders over a President Hillary Clinton is based on a well-formed belief that the United States will experience another financial crisis on Wall Street within the next few years. That crisis will, in hindsight, be viewed as the direct failure of President Obama to enact meaningful financial reform legislation after the 2008 crash, when he had the will of the people behind him, rather than pandering to his overlords on Wall Street who financed his campaign. Nothing more clearly demonstrates who has been calling the shots in the Obama administration than the President’s nominees to oversee Wall Street at the U. S. Justice Department, U. S. Treasury Department, Securities and Exchange Commission, and his outrageous refusal for more than five years to even follow his own Dodd-Frank financial reform law and appoint a Vice Chairman for Supervision at the Federal Reserve. In the early days of his first term, Obama nominated Eric Holder to serve as U. S. Attorney General at the Justice Department and Lanny Breuer to head its Criminal Division. Both Holder and Breuer came from the law firm, Covington & Burling, which had deep ties to Wall Street. Both Holder and Breuer returned to their high-paying jobs as partners at Covington & Burling after failing to prosecute as much as one Wall Street executive of the mega banks that caused the crash. In a January 22, 2013 Frontlineexpose at PBS, producer Martin Smith revealed the following: Martin Smith: We spoke to a couple of sources from within the Criminal Division, and they reported that when it came to Wall Street, there were no investigations going on. There were no subpoenas, no document reviews, no wiretaps. Lanny Breuer: Well, I don’t know who you spoke with because we have looked hard at the very types of matters that you’re talking about. Martin Smith: These sources said that at the weekly indictment approval meetings that there was no case ever mentioned that was even close to indicting Wall Street for financial crimes.
Someone has obviously been studying their common core math. After Jay Solomon over at the Wall Street Journal pointed out that there was a whopping $50 billion difference in the funds Iran was supposed to get after the sanctions release in the administration’s nuclear deal and what Iran is claiming to have, State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf took to Twitter to ‘clarify’ to him publicly that it was the Treasury Department’s fault… as if that somehow makes the government look less ridiculously inept.
As of this writing, North Korea intends to launch another Unha-3 rocket, or a larger and more efficient version in a launch window falling between 8 – 25 February. This launch follows on the heels of a nuclear test conducted by North Korea on January 6, 2016, and the claim by Kim Jung-Un that the bomb was a hydrogen bomb. The MSM pundits and their positivist quacking ‘experts’ all state the bomb was not a hydrogen bomb; however, experts such as Peter V. Pry disagree. What was discussed by Dr. Pry was the intentionally low-yield weapon test that would have been optimal for a miniaturized EMP (Electromagnetic Pulse) device, that range being 5-10 kilotons. I have cited Dr. Pry’s work in previous articles and am thoroughly convinced of both his professionalism and his expertise. While the North Koreans claim this launch to be for the purpose of emplacing an earth observation satellite, there are differences in the rocket that satellite images have picked up. The images revealed a gantry that differs in size and design from previous Unha-3 launches. The latest attribution is that the rocket may be a Unha-9, the newest North Korean design that may include an 80-ton rocket booster. The booster has been accomplished with the help of the Iranians. The U. S. Treasury department announced sanctions after proving that Iranians had been traveling to Pyongyang and indeed worked on such a project. In addition, this new launch has concealment procedures not used before by North Korea, such as a mobile sub-surface rail system to transport the missile directly to the gantry unobserved. The launch pad itself is shielded from view. Let us return to Dr. Pry, who explained the details of the reality of just how far along North Korea truly is, as he wrote:
This post was published at shtfplan on February 4th, 2016.