On October 9, 2019, the US Commerce Department’s Bureau of Industry and Security (“BIS”) added 28 Chinese entities to the Entity List because they are accused by the US Government of being associated with human rights violations and abuses against Uighurs, Kazakhs, and other members of Muslim minority groups in the Xinijiang Uighur Autonomous Region (“XUAR”). All exports, reexports, or in-country transfers of items (i.e., goods, software, technology) subject to the Export Administration Regulations (“EAR”), including EAR99 items, are now subject to a license requirement to such entities. The final rule also includes an extensive list of aliases for these entities.
On September 9, 2019, the US Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (“OFAC”) issued a new Venezuela-related general license (General License 34) to authorize transactions involving certain Government of Venezuela-related individuals that would otherwise be prohibited by Executive Order (“EO”) 13884.
On August 5, 2019, President Trump issued Executive Order 13884 (“Venezuela EO”) blocking all property of the Government of Venezuela (“GOV”), a significant escalation of sanctions against the regime of President Maduro. Statements issued by the White House and State Department indicate that this escalation is meant to target the Maduro regime for its continued abuses of human rights and repression. The US Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (“OFAC”) concurrently issued 12 amended general licenses and 13 new general licenses, new and revised FAQs, and guidance related to the provision of humanitarian assistance and support to the Venezuelan people.
The Venezuela EO targets only the GOV and entities owned 50% or more or otherwise controlled by the GOV, and thus does not place Venezuela under a full territorial embargo. Transactions with private Venezuelan parties that can be effected without the involvement of the GOV remain permissible.
The new sanctions prohibit virtually all US Person dealings with the GOV by blocking the property and interests in property of the GOV that are in the United States, that come within the United States, or that come within the possession or control of US Persons (i.e., US companies and their branches, US banks, US citizens and permanent resident aliens, any person physically located in the United States). GOV funds, contracts or other property interests that come into the possession or control of US Persons must be blocked and reported to OFAC.
On June 24, 2019, the President issued Executive Order 13876, “Imposing Sanctions With Respect To Iran” (“EO 13876”), which specifically imposes sanctions on the Supreme Leader of Iran (currently, Ayatollah Khamenei) and the Supreme Leader’s Office (“SLO”), authorizes the future designation of persons appointed by, or providing support to, the SLO, and designates certain additional senior Iranian Revolutionary Guard (“IRGC”) commanders. While a politically significant and symbolic move, by itself this latest action is unlikely to have much practical impact, except to increase the risk, yet again, of secondary sanctions for non-US parties (particularly financial institutions) that engage in transactions with the targeted parties.