If you are a North Korean dictator or Russian oligarch, it might not surprise you to wake up in the morning to learn that you have been hit by economic sanctions by the US government. However, if you run a small restaurant in Verona, Italy, it’s not the kind of thing you expect – the service couldn’t be that bad. But that’s exactly what happened to restauranteur Alessandro Bazzoni, who found himself sanctioned by the Trump administration.
The sanctions occurred because of a mix-up, with the US Treasury mistaking Mr. Bazzoni for another Alessandro Bazzoni based in Venezuela. The latter was accused of being tied to a network trying to evade sanctions on Venezuela’s oil industry. This dates back to Trump’s sanctions on Venezuela’s state oil company, PVDSA, in 2019. Trump announced further sanctions on his final day in office.
Restaurant owners named Alessandro Bazzoni weren’t the only ones hit by sanctions. Another Italian company, a graphic design firm based on the island of Sardinia, was also sanctioned by the Treasury Department. While some might think the story smacks of the Trump administration’s incompetence and the fact casino-mogul Trump likes to act as if he is spinning the roulette wheel when it comes to deciding people’s livelihoods, it should be pointed out for fairness that these errors are relatively common.
Restaurant owner thanks the Biden administration
Mr. Bazzoni (the restaurant owner) initially thought the sanctions were an elaborate joke. However, he soon realized that he was under the same blacklisted restraints as international criminal organizations and rogue states. While sanctions on a small restaurant owner are likely to be limited in their impact, there can be devastating consequences for companies and individuals wrongly targeted.
Thankfully, Mr. Bazzoni was able to untangle the web, and as of March 31st, he and his business have been removed from the list on the Treasury website. He went on to praise the Biden administration for handling the mix-up, saying, “I thank the new American government for the efficiency with which it intervened.”.
In a later development, it has been reported that the owner of the Sardinian graphic design company has decided to sue. This Alessandro Bazzoni has claimed he has not been able to trade since the Trump administration launched the new sanctions on January 19th. The Guardian picked up the story, with Mr. Bazzoni saying, it was a “momentous error and one that is having serious implications and preventing me from working.”
If you have been mistakenly sanctioned financially by the US government, the Department of the Treasury has a petitions page where you can inform them of the error. As mentioned, it’s relatively common. But it can be a scary situation for those caught up in it.
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Brett is the Managing Editor of this website. A former business executive turned teacher, activist, and writer, Brett also operates an anonymous Twitter account with a very large following.