Last week, President Trump issued Executive Order 13835, further tightening sanctions on Venezuela.  The Executive Order had three new prohibitions, barring all transactions relating to the following:

  • the purchase of any debt owed to the Government of Venezuela, including accounts receivable;
  • any debt owed to the Government of Venezuela that is pledged as collateral after the effective date of this order, including accounts receivable; and
  • the sale, transfer, assignment, or pledging as collateral by the Government of Venezuela of any equity interest in any entity in which the Government of Venezuela has a 50 percent or greater ownership interest.

Continue Reading Recent Venezuela Executive Order Calls Into Question Enforceability of Security Interests

On May 8, 2018, President Trump announced that the United States will cease its participation in the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (the “JCPOA”) and reintroduce nuclear-related sanctions on Iran that were lifted following the implementation of the JCPOA, effectively restoring the 2013 Iranian sanctions program from a U.S. perspective.

The U.S. Department of the Treasury and the U.S. Department of State announced that to implement the President’s decision, they will introduce 90-day and 180-day wind-down periods with sanctions relief consistent to that currently provided by the JCPOA. Following these wind-down periods, U.S. secondary sanctions (i.e., sanctions targeting activity outside U.S. jurisdiction by threatening that those engaged in such activity will themselves be sanctioned by the United States) lifted under the JCPOA will be re-imposed.

In contrast to their responses in 2013, however, key allies are actively opposing U.S. sanctions policy. Although it is likely that the re-imposition of U.S. sanctions will have a significant disruptive effect on international financial transactions with Iran (which, even under the JCPOA, were never completely normalized), the impact and political fallout of secondary sanctions remains to be seen. The legal provisions are the same as those in place prior to the JCPOA, but the outcome may well be different.

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On April 23, 2018, the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) extended the authorized period for activities within U.S. jurisdiction ordinarily incident to maintenance or winding-down of business involving United Company Rusal plc (RUSAL) and its direct and indirect subsidiaries until October 23, 2018. This extension is implemented through both the issuance of new General License 14 (GL 14) and revisions to previously issued General License 12, now re-issued as General License 12A. OFAC also provided guidance on GL 14 through new FAQs. Continue Reading Treasury Extends Wind-down Period for United Company RUSAL plc and Issues Additional Guidance

In March, 2017, Chinese telecommunications equipment manufacturer ZTE entered into a settlement with U.S. export control and sanctions authorities in connection with a multi-year scheme to re-export U.S.-origin telecommunications equipment to Iran and North Korea using a network of front companies.  ZTE also admitted to deliberately concealing and destroying evidence of the scheme to keep it from the U.S. government investigation.  ZTE paid a civil and criminal penalty of $1.19 billion and, as part of the settlement, represented that it would take disciplinary action against 39 employees.  ZTE entered into a criminal plea agreement and settlement agreements with BIS  and OFAC.

Continue Reading ZTE Penalized for Violation of Settlement Agreement

This Trade Summary provides an overview of WTO dispute settlement decisions and panel activities, and EU decisions and measures on commercial policy, customs policy and external relations, for the first quarter of 2018.

If you have any questions regarding the above, do not hesitate to contact or

On March 19, 2018, President Trump issued an Executive Order prohibiting all U.S. persons and residents from transacting in digital currencies issued by the Government of Venezuela, including the country’s recently launched oil-backed cryptocurrency the “Petro” (PTR) or petromoneda.  The sanctions are in response to an emerging trend of sanctioned or rogue regimes experimenting with digital assets. Continue Reading U.S. Sanctions Venezuela’s “Petro” Cryptocurrency Amid Broader Trend of Sanctioned and Rogue Regimes Experimenting with Digital Assets

On April 6, 2018, the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s (“Treasury”) Office of Foreign Assets Control (“OFAC”), in consultation with the U.S. Department of State, designated three dozen Russian “oligarchs,” government officials, and related entities as specially designated nationals (“SDNs”).  All were designated under pre-existing Ukraine/Russia-related authorities provided by Executive Order (“E.O.”) 13661, relating to (among others) senior officials of the Government of the Russian Federation and their supporters, and E.O. 13662, relating to persons and entities operating in specified sectors of the Russian economy.  Effective today, the newly designated persons and entities are included on OFAC’s list of SDNs (the “SDN List”).  Treasury also designated the Russian state-owned arms export monopoly and a related financial institution as SDNs because of their activities relating to the Syrian conflict.

OFAC simultaneously released two general licenses, General Licenses 12 (“GL 12”) and 13 (“GL 13”), that authorize a two-month wind-down period for operations involving many of the specified entities and a one-month period to dispose of holdings in three of the new SDNs that are publicly listed companies.  OFAC also released new Frequently Asked Questions related to both the designations and the general licenses.

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On February 12, 2018, the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) issued two new Venezuela-related frequently asked questions (FAQs) providing additional guidance on how late payments will be treated for purposes of the prohibitions on dealing in “new debt” of the Government of Venezuela and of state-owned entities.  Most notably, the new guidance prohibits acceptance of late payments on post-sanctions debt of Government of Venezuela entities if those payments are received outside the applicable 30- or 90-day limit under Executive Order 13808, even if the failure to pay was not consented to by the lender and violates the underlying agreement.  This guidance likely also has implications for the similar prohibitions on dealings in “new debt” under Russian sectoral sanctions. Continue Reading OFAC Issues Guidance on Payments under Venezuelan “New Debt”; Likely to Affect Russian Sectoral Sanctions as Well

The Treasury Department today released the much-anticipated list of “the most significant senior foreign political figures and oligarchs in the Russian Federation” required by Section 241 of CAATSA. As we have long advised, the list has no immediate legal impact, and it appears that at least in the short to medium term it is unlikely to affect U.S. sanctions policy. The list is a mechanical compilation of 210 names using objective criteria and, at least in its unclassified version, provides little basis to single individuals out for sanctions.

Click here, to read the full alert.