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Last November, Apollo Aviation Group, a US company that manages aircraft assets, was fined $210,000 by the US government for unwittingly leasing out engines that wound up in the hands of Sudan Airways, the flag-carrier of Sudan, in 2014.
The fact that America lifted its economic embargo of Sudan three years ago failed to deter the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), the wing of the US Treasury responsible for sanctions enforcement, from pursuing Apollo.
So, too, did the many mitigating factors that OFAC acknowledged of the case: Apollo had no advance warning that its engines would be passed via intermediaries to Sudan Airways; the engines were ultimately in Sudan for just four months on wet-leased aircraft; and the contract was immediately dissolved when Apollo discovered the slip-up.
To even casual observers, this heavy-handed response leaves little doubt about the seriousness that Washington attaches to violations – deliberate or otherwise – of its sanctions regime.
But it also partly explains why the removal of the decades-old US embargo has done little to ease Sudan’s problems...