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US Sanctions against Russia

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On June 26, 2019, the US Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (“OFAC”) amended Venezuela-related General License 13A (re-issued as General License 13B) to extend its expiration date from July 27, 2019 to October 25, 2019.  General License 13B continues to authorize transactions with Nynas AB, which is owned more than 50% by Petróleos de Venezuela SA (“PdVSA”), and any of Nynas AB’s subsidiaries.  PdVSA was designated 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.  Dealings with entities owned 50% or more by PdVSA are prohibited absent OFAC authorization (i.e., a general or specific license).  Our previous blog post regarding the application of US sanctions to certain PdVSA subsidiaries is available here.

In addition, OFAC extended the expiration dates of two general licenses related to GAZ Group (“GAZ”), which was designated as an SDN on April 6, 2018 for being owned or controlled by Oleg Deripaska.  Please see our blog post regarding this designation here

On December 19, 2018, the US Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (“OFAC”) submitted a letter to congressional leaders (“Congressional Letter”) notifying Congress of its intent to terminate the sanctions imposed on En+ Group plc (“En+”), UC Rusal plc (“RUSAL”), and JSC EuroSibEnergo (“ESE”) in 30 days.  On the same day, OFAC announced new sanctions against a number of individuals and entities for their involvement in a  range of malign activities.  Concurrently, the US Department of State announced it had added 12 individuals and entities to the List of Specified Persons under Section 231 of the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (“CAATSA”) for being part of, or operating for or on behalf of, the defense or intelligence sector of the Russian Federation.

Today, the US Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (“OFAC”) further extended by one month until December 12, 2018 the expiration dates of three general licenses related to EN+ Group plc and United Company RUSAL PLC (“RUSAL”). RUSAL is one of the world’s largest aluminum producers and was previously designated as a Specially Designated National (“SDN”) on April 6, 2018 for being owned or controlled, directly or indirectly, by the EN+ Group and the Russian oligarch, Oleg Deripaska. Please see our blog post on the original designation here. The Treasury Department press release indicates that the extension reflects still ongoing discussions with EN+ and RUSAL regarding substantial corporate governance changes that could significantly reduce Deripaska’s control. Today’s move is a welcome further temporary reprieve for the global aluminum industry as RUSAL seeks to extricate itself from the impact of US sanctions.

In the past week, the US Government took several significant steps related to the US sanctions against Russia. These included imposing sanctions pursuant to Section 231 of the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (“CAATSA”) for the first time and expanding the list of persons and entities identified as being part of the Russian defense or intelligence sectors under CAATSA Section 231. The US Government also clarified the scope of a sanctions waiver impacting foreign subsidiaries in Russia under the Chemical and Biological Weapons Control and Warfare Elimination Act of 1991 (the “CBW Act”). Finally, the US Government extended the expiration dates for several general licenses related to United Company RUSAL PLC (“RUSAL”) and EN+ Group PLC (“EN+ Group”).