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Andrea Tovar

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On October 25, 2019, the US Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (“FinCEN”) issued a final rule identifying Iran as a jurisdiction of primary money laundering concern (“Final Rule”) under Section 311 of the USA PATRIOT ACT, seeking to further isolate Iran from the global financial system.  Concurrently, the US Treasury and State Departments announced a new humanitarian mechanism to ensure that funds associated with permissible trade in support of the Iranian people are not diverted by the Iranian regime to develop ballistic missiles, support terrorism, or finance other malign activities.  These measures build upon the US Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control’s (“OFAC”) additional sanctions against the Central Bank of Iran discussed in our prior blog post here.   

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 August 30, 2019, the US Commerce Department’s Bureau of Industry and Security (“BIS”) published Due Diligence Guidance urging companies to employ heightened due diligence when exporting to Pakistan (the “Pakistan Guidance”). The Pakistan Guidance specifically focuses on (i) supplemental licensing requirements applicable for items (e.g. goods, software, or technology) subject to the Export Administration Regulations (“EAR”) that may be destined to nuclear or missile activities, and (ii) best practices for screening customers in Pakistan to prevent diversion of items subject to the EAR to unauthorized end uses and end users.

BIS published the Pakistan Guidance in an effort to bring attention to compliance risks related exports/reexports to Pakistan after investigations by the BIS Office of Export Enforcement “revealed schemes” by Pakistani entities attempting to acquire items subject to the EAR for entities listed on the Entity List. The Pakistan Guidelines appear to reflect an enforcement focus on Pakistan from BIS, so companies exporting/reexporting items subject to the EAR to Pakistan should take into account these BIS recommendations to ensure compliance.

Key takeaways from the Pakistan Guidance are found below:

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.