On November 26, 2021, the US Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (“OFAC”) published a final rule amending the Syrian Sanctions Regulations (“Final Rule”). The Final Rule expands the existing general license at § 542.516 (the “General License”) to authorize nongovernmental organizations (“NGOs”) to engage in certain assistance-related investment activities in support of not-for-profit activities in Syria.
The General License authorizes NGOs to export/reexport services to Syria in support of not-for-profit activities in Syria, i.e., humanitarian projects that meet basic human needs; democracy-building; education; non-commercial development projects directly benefitting the Syrian people; and the preservation and protection of cultural heritage sites. The Final Rule amends the General License to expand the authorization for NGOs to also engage in the following transactions and activities in support of not-for-profit activities in Syria:
- Transactions with persons who meet the definition of the term Government of Syria (i.e., the state and the Government of the Syrian Arab Republic, as well as any political subdivision, agency, or instrumentality thereof, including the Central Bank of Syria);
- New investment (i.e., a transaction that constitutes a commitment or contribution of funds or other assets, or a loan or other extension of credit) in Syria; and
- Purchase of refined petroleum products of Syrian origin for use in Syria.
The newly published Syria FAQs 937 and 938 confirms that the General License authorizes US financial institutions to process transfers of funds in support of the authorized transactions and activities outlined above. Further, non-US persons, including NGOs and foreign financial institutions, do not risk exposure to US secondary sanctions) for engaging in activities that would otherwise be authorized or exempt for US persons under the Syrian Sanctions Regulations.