On October 10, 2019, the US Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (“OFAC”) designated Ajay Gupta, Atul Gupta, Rajesh Gupta, and Salim Essa of South Africa (“the Guptas”) as Specially Designated Nationals (“SDNs”). The Guptas and their business associate, Essa, were designated in connection with their involvement in corruption under Executive Order 13818 (“EO 13818”), which implements and expands upon the sanctions authorities set out in the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act. The designation of the Guptas and Essa as SDNs represents one of the most high-profile applications of the corruption-related sanctions provision of EO 13818 to date.
OFAC stated that the Guptas and Essa were members of a significant corruption network that leveraged overpayments on government contracts, bribery, and other corrupt acts to influence actions taken by the government of South Africa, in particular by facilitating their capture of government contracts and misappropriation of state assets. As a result of their designation as SDNs, all four individuals’ property and the property of any entities that are owned 50 percent or more by them, which are in the United States or in the possession or control of a US person, are now blocked.
On September 4, 2019, the US Department of State published draft Guidance for the Export of Hardware, Software and Technology with Surveillance Capabilities and/or parts/know-how (the “Guidance”) to provide insight to exporters of items with surveillance capacities on human rights concerns to consider prior to export of such items. The State Department is soliciting feedback on the Guidance until October 4, 2019 for its consideration for the final version of the Guidance to be published at a later date (yet to be specified).
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.
In a notification published in the Federal Register on August 26, 2019, the State Department provided additional information on restrictions on exports to Russia that were initially described by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on August 2, 2019 when he announced the second round of targeted sanctions on Russia under the Chemical and Biological Weapons Control and Warfare Elimination Act of 1991 (the “CBW Act”). Our blog post on the August 2, 2019 announcement (“Announcement”), which described sanctions measures concerning multilateral bank assistance and lending to or participation in debt offerings by the Russian sovereign, in addition to restrictions on exports to Russia described in further detail below, is available here.