U.S. sanctions policy in the first year of the Biden administration saw both change and continuity. As expected, the administration sought to cooperate with allies to impose multilateral (rather than unilateral) sanctions, focused on human rights abuses and opened the door for a new nuclear deal with Iran. At the same time, the administration continued to focus on virtual currencies and on combating illicit cyber activities relating to ransomware, and clarified (and in some respects expanded) sanctions issued under the Trump administration targeting Chinese companies deemed to be part of the Chinese military-industrial complex.
Continue Reading Economic Sanctions: Developments and Considerations

On January 5, 2022, the U.S. Department of the Treasury, as Chair of the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (“CFIUS”), determined that Australia and Canada have established and are effectively utilizing robust processes to analyze foreign investments for national security risks and facilitate coordination with the United States on matters relating to investment security.  As a result, Australia and Canada are and will remain “excepted foreign states” for CFIUS purposes unless and until the U.S. Government deems otherwise.[1]  The United Kingdom and New Zealand, both of which also currently are treated as excepted foreign states,[2] have until February 2023 to fulfill the criteria necessary to remain excepted foreign states.  It is possible that additional countries may be designated in the future as the global foreign direct investment (“FDI”) trend, particularly in U.S. ally countries, continues.

Continue Reading Australia and Canada Remain CFIUS Excepted Foreign States; United Kingdom and New Zealand Have Until February 2023 to Fulfill Criteria Necessary to Keep Designations

Last week, the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (“FinCEN”) of the Department of the Treasury announced a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (“NPRM”) to implement the beneficial ownership reporting requirements of the Corporate Transparency Act (“CTA”), part of the Anti-Money Laundering Act of 2020.  This legislation requires a range of U.S. legal entities, and non-U.S. legal entities

On December 6, the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCENrequested public input, through an advanced notice of proposed rulemaking (the ANPR), on the potential imposition of nationwide recordkeeping and reporting requirements on persons involved in certain residential and commercial real estate transactions pursuant to its authority under the Bank Secrecy Act (

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