On August 25, 2017, President Trump issued an Executive Order severely restricting transactions in debt and equity of the Government of Venezuela and of state-owned entities; including Petroleos de Venezuela; S.A. (PdVSA). Simultaneously with the Executive Order; OFAC issued a number of general licenses and Frequently Asked Questions relating to the new sanctions. These new actions build on sanctions targeting Venezuelan officials; discussed here; and continue the trend toward targeted “bespoke” sanctions short of full blocking of all transactions with a targeted regime or country.

The new sanctions:

  • Prohibit dealings in existing debt of the Government of Venezuela (and its controlled entities) by U.S. persons or within U.S. jurisdiction; subject to an extensive list of exceptions for specified issuances;
  • Prohibit all dealings by U.S. persons or within U.S. jurisdiction in new debt of the Government of Venezuela with a duration of longer than 30 days and of PdVSA with a duration of longer than 90 days; or new equity of any state-controlled entity;
  • Bar the purchase of securities from the Government of Venezuela within U.S. jurisdiction; other than permitted new debt; and
  • Bar all distributions of profits and earnings within U.S. jurisdiction to the Government of Venezuela by state-owned entities.

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On July 31, OFAC designated Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro Moros as a “Specially Designated National” (“SDN”) blocking all of his assets and prohibiting any transaction in which he has an interest within U.S. jurisdiction. Last week, on July 26, OFAC designated 13 other current and former Venezuelan officials as SDNs, including Rocco Albisinni Serrano, who is the President of CENCOEX (the Venezuelan foreign exchange authority), and Simon Alejandro Zerpa Delgado, who is the Vice President of Finance for PDVSA and the President of Venezuela’s Economic and Social Development Bank (“BANDES”), and the President of Venezuela’s National Development Fund (“FONDEN”). There have been rumors that the United States was considering restricting oil sales from Venezuela, but at the moment no such sanctions have been imposed. Continue Reading OFAC Sanctions Venezuelan Officials