On November 5, 2018, the US Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (“OFAC”) took several actions to finalize the re-imposition of sanctions against Iran in response to President Trump’s May 8, 2018 decision to cease the United States’ participation in the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (“JCPOA”). See our previous blog posts here regarding the President’s May 8, 2018 decision to cease the United States’ participation in the JCPOA and here regarding Executive Order (“EO”) 13846, issued on August 6, 2018, which consolidated and reissued several sanctions provisions that had been suspended or revoked while the JCPOA was in effect.
On September 12, 2018, President Trump issued a new Executive Order, “Imposing Certain Sanctions in the Event of Foreign Interference in a United States Election” (the “Order”). The Order authorizes the designation as Specially Designated Nationals (“SDNs”) of parties that engage in foreign interference in US elections. While the Order provides the authorization and criteria for such designations, it does not designate any additional parties as SDNs at this time. The Order also requires additional review of the nature and extent of any foreign interference in each US federal election, including the upcoming midterm Congressional elections. Although it is not targeting any particular country or government, the Order comes as the US Congress debates additional sanctions on Russia’s largest banks and energy companies and the purchase of Russian sovereign debt in response to alleged Russian interference in the 2016 US elections.
The US Departments of State, Treasury, and Homeland Security warned companies in a new advisory that deceptive practices by North Korea to evade US, UN, and other sanctions could put them at risk of prohibited or sanctionable dealings with the North Korean regime. The advisory published on July 24, 2018 follows February 2018 guidance from the US Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control regarding certain deceptive shipping practices of North Korea to avoid US sanctions (see our prior blog post here). The new advisory encourages companies to undertake enhanced due diligence within their supply chains to avoid prohibited or sanctionable: (i) sourcing of goods, services, or technology from North Korea and (ii) use of the labor of North Korean citizens or nationals, which is presumed to be forced labor, regardless of where such labor occurs.
On May 21, 2018, the President signed a new Executive Order (the “Order”) related to Venezuela entitled “Prohibiting Certain Additional Transactions with Respect to Venezuela.” According to a statement from the White House, this action is intended to “prevent the Maduro regime from … liquidating Venezuela’s critical assets.” These new US financial sanctions were imposed after Venezuela held elections this past weekend that were described as “fraudulent” in a press statement from the US State Department. Please see our prior blog posts concerning the previous Venezuela-related Executive Orders: (i) Executive Order 13827 of March 19, 2018 here, (ii) Executive Order 13808 of August 24, 2017 here, and (iii) Executive Order 13692 of March 8, 2015 here.