Export Controls & Economic Sanctions

On Sunday, January 27, 2019, the U.S. Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (“OFAC”) announced the lifting of sanctions imposed on En+ Group plc (“En+”), UC Rusal plc (“Rusal”) and JSC EuroSibEnergo (“ESE”).  As previously reported here, this announcement follows the Administration’s notification submitted to Congress on December 19, 2018. Continue Reading OFAC Lifts Sanctions on EN+, Rusal and EuroSibEnergo

Venezuela recently  initiated a World Trade Organization (“WTO”)  complaint against U.S. sanctions, claiming that the United States has “imposed certain coercive trade-restrictive measures on the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela in the context of attempts to isolate Venezuela economically.” The same day, the U.S. imposed additional sanctions on Venezuelan nationals and entities allegedly engaging in corrupt currency exchange transactions (see our previous post here).

The WTO will now begin consultations, during which the parties will have an opportunity to resolve their dispute without entering into litigation.  If the parties cannot reach an agreement within 60 days, Venezuela may request adjudication by a dispute settlement panel.  It remains to be seen whether the WTO dispute settlement system will be of any assistance to Venezuela in light of predicted paralysis in December 2019 when two of the three current WTO judicial appointments are set to expire.   To date, the United States has refused to entertain any appellate body appointments due to concerns that the current members have strayed from their original mandate.

Husch Blackwell’s Export Controls and Economic Sanctions team continues to monitor all matters related to sanctions as they develop and will provide updates and analysis as new information becomes available.  Should you have any questions, please contact Cortney MorganLinda Tiller, or Grant Leach.

Today, January 8, 2019, the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (“OFAC”) added approximately 30 individuals and entities to its Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons List (the “SDN List”) due to their engagement in corrupt currency exchange transactions which enriched themselves by at least $2.4 billion at the expense of Venezuela’s citizens.  These sanctioned persons include two former Venezuelan National Treasurers – Claudia Patricia Diaz Guillen (“Diaz”) and Alejandro Jose Andrade Cedeno (“Andrade”) – who authorized a Venezuelan businessman named Raul Antonio Gorrin Belisario (“Gorrin”) to convert Venezuelan bolivars into U.S. dollars at highly favorable exchange rates at currency exchange houses under his control.  Gorrin then shared the resulting excess currency conversion profits with Diaz and Andrade by engaging in deceptive practices to purchase a wide variety of properties, aircraft and other luxury assets on behalf of Diaz, Andrade, their family members and their other business associates.  The Treasury Department published a diagram which explains the scheme in further detail. Continue Reading OFAC Announces New Sanctions Related to Venezuela

On December 19, 2018, the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (“OFAC”) and the U.S. State Department took multiple sanctions actions related to Russia:

Proposed Delisting of En+ Group, UC Rusal and ESE

OFAC notified Congress of its intent to remove En+ Group plc (“En+ Group”), UC Rusal plc (“UC Rusal”) and JSC EuroSibEnergo (“ESE”) from its Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons List (the “SDN List”) within thirty (30) days from December 19, 2018.  OFAC first added these companies to the SDN List in April 2018 when it imposed sanctions on Oleg Deripaska due to his status as a senior Russian government official.  OFAC added these three companies to the SDN List because Deripaska was the majority owner of En+ Group (which, in turn, was the majority owner of both UC Rusal and ESE).  Under OFAC’s 50% ownership rule, these sanctions also extended to any subsidiaries in which En+ Group, UC Rusal or ESE held an ownership interest of 50% or greater.  Continue Reading OFAC Announces Multiple Changes to Russia Related Sanctions

On December 7, 2018, the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) further extended the expiration date of certain Ukraine-related general licenses related to EN+ Group plc (EN+), United Company RUSAL PLC (RUSAL), and GAZ Group (GAZ) as the entities continue discussions with OFAC to potentially effect “significant changes in control of these sanctioned entities.”   The new  General Licenses 13H (Authorizing Certain Transactions Necessary to Divest or Transfer Debt, Equity, or Other Holdings in Certain Blocked Persons), 14D (Authorizing Certain Activities Necessary to Maintenance or Wind Down of Operations or Existing Contracts with United Company RUSAL PLC), 15C (Authorizing Certain Activities Necessary to Maintenance or Wind Down of Operations or Existing Contracts with GAZ Group), and 16D (Authorizing Certain Activities Necessary to Maintenance or Wind Down of Operations or Existing Contracts with EN+ Group PLC or JSC EuroSibEnergo) supersede their previous versions by extending the expiration date from from January 7, 2019, to January 21, 2019. Continue Reading OFAC Extends Expiration Date of Certain Ukraine-Related General Licenses by Two Weeks

On November 9, 2018, the U.S. Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) extended the expiration date for certain Ukraine-related general licenses related to EN+ Group plc (EN+), United Company RUSAL PLC (RUSAL), and GAZ Group (GAZ).  The expiration date of General Licenses 13G (Authorizing Certain Transactions Necessary to Divest or Transfer Debt, Equity, or Other Holdings in Certain Blocked Persons), 14C (Authorizing Certain Activities Necessary to Maintenance or Wind Down of Operations or Existing Contracts with United Company RUSAL PLC), 15B (Authorizing Certain Activities Necessary to Maintenance or Wind Down of Operations or Existing Contracts with GAZ Group), and 16C (Authorizing Certain Activities Necessary to Maintenance or Wind Down of Operations or Existing Contracts with EN+ Group PLC or JSC EuroSibEnergo) was extended from December 12, 2018 to January 7, 2019.  U.S. persons participating in transactions or activities authorized by these general licenses should provide a detailed report to OFAC within 10 business days of January 7, 2019 (by January 21, 2019).

Continue Reading OFAC Extends Expiration Date for EN+, RUSAL, and GAZ Ukraine-related General Licenses

Iran

On November 5, 2018, the United States fully reimposed sanctions against Iran as part of its decision to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal, also known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (“JCPOA”).  President Trump announced the decision to withdraw on May 8, 2018, thus beginning the “wind-down” period for businesses to withdraw from Iran.  Continue Reading U.S. Reimposes Tough Sanctions on Iran; More Designations to Come

As previously covered here, on April 6, 2018, the U.S. Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (“OFAC”) invoked authority provided under the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (“CAATSA”) in order to place several Russian oligarchs, political officials and businesses under their control on its Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons List (“SDN List”).  These designations generally prohibited U.S. persons from engaging in transactions  with the sanctioned individuals  and entities, however OFAC also issued several General Licenses simultaneously which were intended to provide limited windows for maintaining or winding down preexisting transactions with those sanctioned individuals or entities.  OFAC has now partially extended those authorized wind down periods by issuing the following General Licenses last week on September 21, 2018:

Continue Reading OFAC Extends Authorization Period for Licensed Transactions with Certain Russian SDNs

On September 20, 2018, President Trump released a 16-page Executive Order which delegated various Presidential powers established under the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (“CAATSA”) to both the U.S. Secretary of Treasury and the U.S. Secretary of State.  As a result of this delegation, the U.S. Treasury Department‘s Office of Foreign Assets Control (“OFAC”) and the U.S. State Department are now empowered to take actions which include (but are not limited to) designating parties to be sanctioned under various CAATSA provisions, selecting the specific menu-based sanctions to be imposed upon those parties and implementing those menu-based sanctions (we previously covered the CAATSA statute here, here and here).  OFAC also updated its website to provide an additional FAQ response explaining the new Executive Order and indicating that it anticipates promulgating regulations to implement these sanctions.

Continue Reading Trump Administration Issues New CAATSA Executive Order, Adds 33 Persons to LSP List and Sanctions Chinese Defense Buyer