Italian Restauranteur Mistakenly Targeted By US Sanctions

(Photo by ALBERTO PIZZOLI/AFP via Getty Images)

Andrew Jose Contributor
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The Biden administration removed sanctions on companies owned by an Italian restauranteur that the Trump administration had mistakenly blacklisted while cracking down on Venezuelan oil.

The removals were announced Wednesday by the U.S. Department of the Treasury.

“It was a mistake,” Alessandro Bazzoni, the restaurant owner, told Reuters on Thursday. “They resolved the problem. I shouldn’t be involved anymore… thankfully it was all resolved in a couple of months.”

On Jan. 19, its last day in office, the Trump administration blacklisted several individuals and companies accused of being part of a network that helped Venezuela circumvent U.S. sanctions on its oil industry. (RELATED: US Targets Widespread Network Working To Evade Sanctions On Venezuelan Oil Industry)

An Italian national called Alessandro Bazzoni was one of the sanctioned individuals. 

The U.S. then placed two entities belonging to Bazzoni — A.M.G. S.A.S. Di Alessandro Bazzoni & C., and a graphic designing firm called Serigraphiclab — on the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) ’s Specially Designated Nationals And Blocked Persons List, The Hill reported.

An OFAC designation prevents blocked entities from accessing their U.S. assets and prohibits American citizens from conducting transactions with them. (RELATED: Treasury Sanctions Russian Company And Board Member For Secretly Trading Venezuelan Crude Oil In Partnership With Maduro)

The Biden administration later realized that the Trump administration had targetted the wrong Alessandro Bazzoni instead of the intended one, who shared the same name, Reuters reported. As a result, the Treasury Department removed the two companies’ OFAC designations.

“At the end of the Trump administration they were doing a lot really, really fast with respect to Venezuela, Iran and China,” Tim O’Toole, a sanctions specialist working with law firm Miller & Chevalier, told Reuters. “When you move that fast, you tend to make mistakes.”

The other Bazzoni is still sanctioned by the U.S. for his role in a network, which allegedly purchased blacklisted oil from Venezuela’s state oil corporation, PdVSA, and sold it to other parties, according to The Hill.