Oops… OFAC changes also made to Venezuela FAQs

Sorry about this – about those OFAC changes to the Venezuela program I just posted? Well, OFAC also issued a new Frequently Asked Question (FAQ):

803. What types of activity does General License 35 authorize? 

U.S. persons are authorized to engage in certain administrative transactions with the Government of Venezuela that are prohibited by E.O. 13884 of August 5, 2019, where such transactions are necessary and ordinarily incident to such persons’ day-to-day operations.  General License 35 authorizes U.S. persons to pay taxes, fees, and import duties to the Government of Venezuela, and to purchase or receive permits, licenses, registrations, certifications, and public utility services from the Government of Venezuela, so long as these transactions are necessary and ordinarily incident to such persons’ day-to-day operations.  

U.S. persons should remain cautious when engaging in authorized activity with blocked persons to ensure all criteria for use of the general license are met.  The illegitimate former Maduro regime has a long history of corruption, and we encourage U.S. persons who rely on the authorization in General License 35 to exercise appropriate due diligence to ensure compliance with the terms of the authorization.  The U.S. government will continue to target corruption by the illegitimate former Maduro regime.  As with any general or specific license, OFAC is prepared to revoke this authorization if appropriate to support U.S. foreign policy and national security priorities. [11-05-2019]

and an amended one, too:

680. Does the blocking of the Government of Venezuela impact the ability of U.S. persons to transact with the Government of Venezuela, or persons in which the Government of Venezuela owns, directly or indirectly, a 50 percent or greater interest? 


Yes. Unless exempt or authorized by OFAC, all property and interests in property of persons meeting the definition of the Government of Venezuela  (see section 6(d) of E.O. 13884 of August 5, 2019) that are in, or come within, the United States or the possession or control of a United States person are blocked, pursuant to E.O. 13884.  The term “Government of Venezuela,” as defined in E.O. 13884, includes the state and Government of Venezuela, any political subdivision, agency, or instrumentality thereof, including the Central Bank of Venezuela and Petroleos de Venezuela, S.A. (PdVSA), any person owned or controlled, directly or indirectly, by the foregoing, and any person who has acted or purported to act directly or indirectly for or on behalf of, any of the foregoing, including as a member of the Maduro regime.


OFAC has issued several General Licenses (GLs) that provide authorization for categories of persons blocked by E.O. 13884.  GL 34A authorizes transactions with certain Government of Venezuela individuals, including United States citizens; permanent resident aliens of the United States; individuals who have a valid U.S. immigrant or nonimmigrant visa, other than individuals in the United States as part of Venezuela’s mission to the United Nations; former employees and contractors of the Government of Venezuela; and current employees and contractors of the Government of Venezuela who provide health or education services in Venezuela, including at hospitals, schools, and universities.  In addition, GL 22 authorizes certain transactions related to Venezuela’s mission to the United Nations, and GL 31 provides authorization related to the Government of the Interim President of Venezuela.

Without authorization from OFAC, U.S. persons are generally prohibited from engaging in transactions with the Government of Venezuela, or persons in which the Government of Venezuela owns, directly or indirectly, a 50 percent or greater interest. U.S. persons are not prohibited from engaging in transactions involving the country or people of Venezuela, provided blocked persons or any conduct prohibited by any other Executive order imposing sanctions measures related to the situation in Venezuela, are not involved.

Please note that persons meeting the definition of Government of Venezuela and persons that are owned, directly or indirectly, 50 percent or more by the Government of Venezuela are blocked pursuant to E.O. 13884, regardless of whether the person appears on the Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons list (SDN List), unless exempt or authorized by OFAC.

As a general matter, OFAC expects financial institutions to conduct due diligence on their own direct customers (including, for example, their ownership structure) to confirm that those customers are not persons whose property and interests in property are blocked.  With regard to other types of transactions where a financial institution is acting solely as an intermediary and fails to block transactions involving a sanctions target, OFAC will consider the totality of the circumstances surrounding the bank’s processing of the transaction to determine what, if any, regulatory response is appropriate. [11-05-2019]

Links:

New FAQs

Amended FAQs

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