US set to drop sanctions against Irish person in Pacnet inquiry

Two Irish already removed from special designation list in money laundering investigation

The US department of the treasury designated Canadian-headquartered payments processor, Pacnet, as a criminal organisation following claims that it laundered money from schemes used to dupe people out of cash.

The US department of the treasury designated Canadian-headquartered payments processor, Pacnet, as a criminal organisation following claims that it laundered money from schemes used to dupe people out of cash.

 

US authorities are likely to end sanctions against at least one more Irish person connected to payments group Pacnet, which has been at the centre of a money-laundering investigation since the autumn.

The US department of the treasury designated Canadian-headquartered payments processor, Pacnet, as a criminal organisation following claims that it laundered money from schemes used to dupe people out of cash.

The department’s office of foreign assets control recently removed the names of a number of Irish-based individuals linked to Pacnet subsidiaries in the Republic from a special designation list which barred US residents from doing business with them and froze any assets they may have held in the US.

It is understood that following consultations with Pacnet’s lawyers, the office is likely to drop at least one more Irish resident from its specially designated nationals’ list. A total of 12 people connected to the payments group were listed after the investigation began last autumn.

The US treasury confirmed that late last month, following a review of information available to it, the office removed former Pacnet directors Siobhán Hanrahan and Donna MacBain from its list of specially designated nationals.

They no longer met the criteria for designation. Both have resigned as Pacnet directors and no longer work for the group. Neither had US properties or assets. It delisted two other former Pacnet directors, Estelle Snyman and Brian Weekes in February following a similar review.

Change of circumstances

The office considers a number of factors when it comes to removing individuals from its specially designated nationals’ list. These can include a change of circumstances, such as the fact that someone no longer works for, or is a director of, a designated organisation.

Generally the office conducts an investigation to establish whether those on the list continue to meet the criteria for designation. That inquiry includes corroborating statements made by the individuals involved.

It can take up to two years for the office to remove an individual from the list, but it dropped the Pacnet directors’s designation within five months of placing them on it in the first place, which experts say is unusually fast.

Pacnet hired lawyers to act for it and its directors once the investigation began last year. It is understood that the Irish-based individuals believe that the office went beyond its powers in placing them on the list in the first place. Contacts between the sides are ongoing.