On November 5, 2019, the US Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (“OFAC”) issued a new Venezuela-related general license (General License No. 35) (“GL 35”) to authorize certain administrative transactions with the Government of Venezuela (“GOV”) prohibited by Executive Order (“EO”) 13884 (“Blocking Property of the Government of Venezuela”); issued General License No. 34A (“GL 34A”), which supersedes and replaces General License No. 34, and authorizes transactions involving certain GOV-related individuals prohibited by EO 13884; and identified five current GOV officials on the Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons List (“SDN List”) pursuant to EO 13884.
Then, on November 21, 2019, OFAC announced the amendment of the Venezuela Sanctions Regulations (“VSR,” 31 C.F.R. Part 591) to incorporate additional EOs; make certain clarifying changes; add a GL authorizing US Government activities; and add an interpretive provision regarding activities related to judicial processes. The VSR regulatory amendments took effect on November 22, 2019 concurrent with their publication in the Federal Register, available here.
These Venezuela sanctions developments are described in more detail below. Our previous blog posts about US sanctions targeting Venezuela are available here.
On September 9, 2019, the US Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (“OFAC”) issued Executive Order 13886 (“EO 13886”), expanding the US counter-terrorism sanctions program by amending Executive Order 13224 (“EO 13224”), which dates to the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. OFAC also designated 28 individuals and entities as Specially Designated Global Terrorists (“SDGTs”) under this new authority and updated various other entries on the Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons List to reflect sanction of those authorities under the same authority. In addition, as described in statements here and here, the State Department implemented the new authority by designating Hurras al-Din, an al-Qaeda-affiliated group in Syria, and 12 leaders of SDGT groups (all of which were designated by OFAC on the same day).
On July 23, 2019, the US Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (“OFAC”) issued an Iran-Related Civil Aviation Industry Advisory (the “Advisory”) that provides cautionary guidance to the civil aviation industry on compliance with US sanctions measures targeting Iran. The Advisory articulates the following key messages: (i) both US and non-US parties in the civil aviation industry remain at risk of US enforcement actions and economic sanctions for engaging in or supporting unauthorized transfers of aircraft or related goods, technology, or services to Iran or to designated Iranian airlines; (ii) the international civil aviation industry stakeholders – including airlines, charter operators, travel distributors and ticket agents, OEMs, suppliers, and service providers – must be on alert for certain deceptive practices used by Iran-related parties to circumvent US sanctions; and (iii) parties should be aware of certain aspects of US sanctions targeting Iran that relate specifically to the civil aviation industry.
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.