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US Sanctions against Iran

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On October 31, 2019, the US State Department strengthened US secondary sanctions targeting Iran under the Iran Freedom and Counter-Proliferation Act of 2012 (“IFCA”) (codified at 22 U.S.C. § 8801 et seq.), which dates back to 2013.  These new IFCA sanctions target the construction sector in Iran and make sanctionable the export to Iran of certain strategic metals.

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 September 20, 2019, in response to recent attacks on certain Saudi Arabian oil facilities, the US Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (“OFAC”) took action pursuant to Executive Order 13224 against three Iranian entities: (i) the National Development Fund of Iran (“NDF”) (ii) Etemad Tejarat Pars Co., and (iii) the Central Bank of Iran (“CBI”).  Executive Order 13224 authorizes the designation of parties if, among other things, they attempt to commit, or pose a significant risk of committing, acts of terrorism.

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.