On September 6, 2019, the US Treasury Department Office of Foreign Assets Control (“OFAC”) announced that it is amending the Cuban Assets Control Regulations (“CACR”) to further financially isolate the Cuban government and implement President Trump’s June 2017 National Security Presidential Memorandum (“NSPM”) Strengthening the Policy of the United States Towards Cuba (the “CACR Amendment”). The CACR Amendment (1) removes the authorization for banks subject to US jurisdiction to process pass-through or “U-turn” transactions, and (2) eliminates or restricts certain types of remittances to Cuba. The CACR Amendment was published in the Federal Register on September 9, 2019, and will take effect on October 9, 2019.
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 6, 2019, the US Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (“OFAC”) amended three Venezuela-related general licenses (re-issued as General License No. 7B, General License No. 8A, and General License 13A) to clarify that these authorizations do not authorize US Persons to engage in transactions or dealings related to the exportation or reexportation of diluents, directly or indirectly, to Venezuela. Such general licenses (“GLs”) were originally issued concurrent with the designation of Petróleos de Venezuela SA (“PdVSA”) as a Specially Designated National (“SDN”) on January 28, 2019, under Executive Order 13850. Our original blog post regarding the designation of PdVSA is available here. Read more…