On December 2, 2021, the U.S. Department of the Treasury, Office of Foreign Assets Control (“OFAC”) issued a new directive (Directive 1) prohibiting with immediate effect U.S. persons from transacting or participating in the primary and secondary markets of new Belarusian sovereign debt, in any denomination, with a maturity of greater than 90 days.[1]  In coordination with the European Union, United Kingdom, and Canada, OFAC also designated over 30 individuals and entities determined to have contributed to “ongoing attacks on democracy, human rights, and international norms” on the list of Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons (“SDN List”) and issued General License No. 5, authorizing transactions and activities ordinarily incident and necessary to the wind down of transactions involving newly sanctioned Open Joint Stock Company Belarusian Potash Company or Agrorozkvit LLC, or any of their subsidiaries, until April 1, 2022.[2]
Continue Reading OFAC Imposes Sanctions on Belarusian Sovereign Debt, Announces New Designations

On November 8, 2021, the U.S. Department of the Treasury, Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) designated a virtual currency exchange, Chatex, and its infrastructure support providers on the list of Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons (SDN List) for their role in facilitating financial transactions for ransomware actors.[i]  The Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) also released an updated advisory on ransomware and the use of the financial system to facilitate ransomware payments.[ii]  These actions were taken in furtherance of a coordinated “whole-of-government” effort to disrupt criminal ransomware actors and the virtual currency exchanges used to launder ransom payments around the world.
Continue Reading OFAC Ramps up Targeting of Ransomware-linked Actors and FinCEN Updates Ransomware Advisory

The Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (“CFIUS” or the “Committee”) is a U.S. government interagency committee that has the authority to review investments that provide a foreign person with control or, in some cases, certain non-controlling rights over a U.S. business and evaluate the extent to which such transactions raise national security concerns.  For decades following the establishment of CFIUS, the Committee largely only reviewed transactions that parties proactively submitted to CFIUS.  This primarily was due to CFIUS’s limited resources and dedication of such resources to reviewing transactions notified to CFIUS.  In 2018, Congress passed the Foreign Investment Risk Review Modernization Act (“FIRRMA”), which, among other things, provided CFIUS with additional resources to identify transactions that: (1) could be within the jurisdiction of CFIUS, (2) potentially raise national security concerns, and (3) were not notified to CFIUS (often referred to as “non-notified transactions”).
Continue Reading A Look Behind the CFIUS Non-Notified Process Curtain; How it Works and How to Handle Outreach From CFIUS

Maybe.

Let’s use a typical U.S. sponsored private equity fund as an example.  In this example, the limited partnership (“Fund”) is registered in the Cayman Islands and managed by a U.S.-based investment firm through a U.S.-based general partner (“GP”) entity and U.S. citizens in New York making investment decisions.
Continue Reading Is Your U.S. Sponsored Private Equity Fund a Foreign Person for CFIUS Purposes?

On April 19, 2021, in response to reported human rights violations by the regime of President Alexander Lukashenko, the U.S. Department of the Treasury, Office of Foreign Assets Control (“OFAC”) issued General License 2H (“GL 2H”)[1] under the U.S. sanctions program targeting Belarus.  GL 2H revokes and replaces General License 2G (“GL 2G”),[2] which authorized U.S. persons to engage in transactions with nine sanctioned Belarusian state-owned entities.
Continue Reading OFAC Revokes Key General License Under Belarus Sanctions Program

On April 15, 2021, the Biden administration issued a new executive order (the New EO) creating broad authority to impose blocking sanctions against a wide range of individuals and entities determined to be engaged in “harmful foreign activities” of the Russian Federation.[1]  In parallel with and under the authority of the New EO, the U.S. Department of the Treasury, Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) issued a new directive (Directive 1) prohibiting U.S. financial institutions from participating in the primary market for ruble-denominated sovereign debt or from otherwise lending funds to the Russian Federation, effective June 14, 2021.[2]  (Non-ruble Russian sovereign debt and funding have been prohibited under an existing 2019 ban, described in our previous post and below.)  As part of “a new U.S. campaign against Russian malign behavior” under the New EO and existing authorities, OFAC also designated over 40 individuals and entities alleged to have attempted to influence the 2020 U.S. presidential election or to be operating in the Crimea region.[3]
Continue Reading Biden Administration Imposes New Restrictions on Russian Sovereign Debt, Authorizes Additional Sanctions

On Thursday, March 25, the Biden administration imposed blocking sanctions against Myanma Economic Holdings Public Company Limited (MEHL) and Myanmar Economic Corporation Limited (MEC), pursuant to Executive Order 14014 (the Burma EO), in response to the military’s refusal to disavow the February 1, 2021 military coup.[1]  As a result of the sanctions, all transactions and dealings within U.S. jurisdiction, including U.S. dollar interbank transfers, in which MEHL and MEC have a direct or indirect interest are prohibited, and all property within the United States or in the possession or control of U.S. persons in which either has a direct or indirect is blocked.  These sanctions also extend to any entity directly or indirectly 50% or more owned by one or more sanctioned persons or entities, directly or indirectly.[2]  The move was made in coordination with the United Kingdom, which also imposed blocking sanctions against MEHL.[3]  You can read our previous blog post on the Burma EO here.[4]
Continue Reading United States Designates Myanmar Military Conglomerates

On February 10, 2021, in response to the February 1, 2021, military coup in Myanmar (Burma),[1] President Biden issued an executive order (the Burma EO)[2] authorizing the imposition of blocking sanctions against a range of individuals and entities.  Concurrently, the U.S. Department of the Treasury, Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) designated 10 individuals (two of the individuals were already designated under a different sanctions authority) and three entities on the list of Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons.  All property and interests in property of persons sanctioned under the Burma EO are blocked and all transactions within U.S. jurisdiction in which a sanctioned person has an interest are prohibited.  Sanctions also extend to any entity directly or indirectly 50% or more owned by one or more sanctioned persons or entities.
Continue Reading United States Imposes Sanctions in Response to Military Coup in Myanmar

The new year comes in the midst of an evolving landscape for economic sanctions, including the transition away from a U.S. administration that has relied on tightening economic sanctions as a key component of a number of foreign policy initiatives. In 2021, boards of directors should be aware of the ongoing implementation of new China-related sanctions, sanctions risks relating to ransomware attacks and the potential sanctions implications of foreign-policy shifts by the Biden administration.
Continue Reading Developments in U.S. Sanctions and Foreign Investment Regulatory Regimes

In one of a series of lame-duck sanctions and export control actions rushed into place before the transition to the Biden Administration, on January 5, 2021, President Trump issued an Executive Order Addressing the Threat Posed by Applications and Other Software Developed or Controlled by Chinese Companies (the Executive Order)[1] authorizing the Commerce Department to regulate or prohibit any transaction involving a U.S. person or within the jurisdiction of the United States with persons that develop or control the following Chinese connected software applications, or with their subsidiaries:
Continue Reading President Trump Authorizes Restrictions on Additional Chinese Applications and Calls for Potential New Export Restrictions on Personal Data; Details to Come