Senior U.S. Treasury official to warn Turkey for evading sanctions
The U.S. Treasury Department's top sanctions official will warn countries and companies on a trip to Turkey and the Middle East next week that they could lose access to U.S. markets if they do business with companies subject to U.S. sanctions, as Washington cracks down on Russian attempts to circumvent sanctions imposed over the war in Ukraine.
Brian Nelson, undersecretary of state for terrorism and financial intelligence, will travel to Oman, the United Arab Emirates and Turkey from Jan. 29 to Feb. 3 to meet with government officials as well as businesses and financial institutions to reiterate that Washington will continue to aggressively enforce its sanctions, a Treasury spokesman told Reuters.
"Individuals and institutions operating in permissible countries risk losing access to U.S. markets if they do business with sanctioned entities or fail to conduct appropriate due diligence," the spokesman said.
While in the region, Nelson will discuss Treasury's efforts to crack down on Russian efforts to evade sanctions and export controls imposed over its brutal war on Ukraine, Iran's destabilizing activities in the region, the risks of illicit financing undermining economic growth, and foreign investment.
The trip is the latest visit by a senior Treasury official to Turkey to discuss sanctions, following a series of warnings issued by Treasury and Commerce Department officials last year as Washington ramped up pressure on Ankara to ensure enforcement of U.S. sanctions against Russia.
Nelson's trip comes at a time of strained relations between the United States and Turkey, as the two NATO allies disagree on a range of issues.
Most recently, Turkey's refusal to give the green light to Sweden's and Finland's bids for NATO has worried Washington, while Ankara is frustrated that its request to buy F-16 fighter jets is increasingly dependent on whether the two Nordic countries can join the alliance.
Nelson will visit Ankara, the Turkish capital, and the financial center of Istanbul on Feb. 2and 3. He will warn companies and banks to avoid transactions related to potential transfers of dual-use technologies that could ultimately be used by the Russian military, the spokesman said.
Turkey has condemned the Russian invasion and deployed armed drones to Ukraine. At the same time, it rejects Western sanctions against Russia and maintains close ties with both Moscow and Kyiv, its Black Sea neighbors.
Turkey has also increased trade and tourism with Russia. Some Turkish companies have purchased or are seeking to purchase Russian assets from Western partners that are withdrawing because of the sanctions, while others maintain large assets in the country.
However, Ankara has promised that international sanctions will not be circumvented in Turkey.
Washington is also concerned about the circumvention of U.S. sanctions on Iran.
Last month, the United States imposed sanctions on prominent Turkish businessman Sitki Ayan and his corporate network, accusing him of acting as a facilitator for oil sales and money laundering on behalf of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps.