Publication of Amended Syria Sanctions Regulations and Related Frequently Asked Questions; Issuance of Venezuela-related General License 8I
Release date. 11/24/2021
The Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) is adopting a final rule amending the Syrian Sanctions Regulations, 31 CFR part 542, to expand an existing authorization related to certain activities of nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) in Syria. This regulatory amendment is currently available for public inspection with the Federal Register and will take effect upon publication in the Federal Register on Friday, November 26, 2021. OFAC is also publishing two, new Frequently Asked Questions (937 and 938).
Also, OFAC is issuing Venezuela-related General License 8I, “Authorizing Transactions Involving Petróleos de Venezuela, S.A. (PdVSA) Necessary for the Limited Maintenance of Essential Operations in Venezuela or the Wind Down of Operations in Venezuela for Certain Entities.”
Here are the updated Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs):
937. What does the general license (GL) at § 542.516 of the Syrian Sanctions Regulations (SySR), as amended on November 26, 2021, authorize with respect to nongovernmental organizations (NGOs)? Answer
The GL at § 542.516 of the SySR continues to authorize, subject to certain limitations, NGOs to engage in certain transactions and activities that would otherwise be prohibited in support of the following not-for-profit activities in Syria:
- Humanitarian projects that meet basic human needs;
- Non-commercial development projects directly benefitting the Syrian people; and
- The preservation and protection of cultural heritage sites.
The transactions and activities that NGOs are authorized to engage in include:
- Transactions with persons who meet the definition of the term Government of Syria, as defined in § 542.305(a) (i.e., the state and the Government of the Syrian Arab Republic, as well as any political subdivision, agency, or instrumentality thereof, including the Central Bank of Syria), that would otherwise be prohibited by § 542.201(a)(1);
- New investment (i.e., a transaction that constitutes a commitment or contribution of funds or other assets, or a loan or other extension of credit) in Syria that would otherwise be prohibited by § 542.206;
- Exportation or reexportation of services that would otherwise be prohibited by § 542.207; and
- Purchase of refined petroleum products of Syrian origin for use in Syria that would otherwise be prohibited by § 542.209.
Early-recovery-related transactions and activities that fall within the categories of transactions and activities listed above are authorized. For transactions and activities not otherwise authorized or exempt from sanctions, OFAC considers license requests on a case-by-case basis.
Additionally, this GL authorizes U.S. financial institutions to process transfers of funds in support of the authorized transactions and activities outlined above.
Separately, non-U.S. persons, including NGOs and foreign financial institutions, do not risk exposure to U.S. secondary sanctions pursuant to the Caesar Syria Civilian Protection Act of 2019 for engaging in or facilitating transactions and activities that are otherwise authorized or exempt for U.S. persons under the SySR. Please see FAQ 884 for additional information.
Please note that this guidance does not apply to transactions and activities that may be subject to sanctions under other sanctions programs administered by OFAC (e.g., transactions with persons blocked under OFAC’s counterterrorism authority (E.O. 13224, as amended) or OFAC’s Syria-related authority (E.O. 13894)), unless exempt or otherwise authorized by OFAC.
938. What early-recovery-related transactions and activities are nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) authorized to engage in pursuant to the general license (GL) at § 542.516 of the Syrian Sanctions Regulations (SySR), as amended on November 26, 2021? Answer
The GL at § 542.516 of the SySR authorizes NGOs to engage in activities in support of certain not-for-profit activities in Syria, including: humanitarian projects that meet basic human needs; democracy-building; education; non-commercial development projects directly benefitting the Syrian people; and the preservation and protection of cultural heritage sites. This includes early-recovery-related transactions and activities by NGOs in support of transactions and activities that fall within the categories listed above, including:
- the provision of healthcare and health-related services (such as the restoration of health facilities; the distribution of medical equipment, supplies, and pharmaceuticals; and technical training for and supervision of healthcare workers);
- the provision of educational support and training services (such as the rehabilitation of local schools, the provision of training and equipment support to local educators, training and equipment support to local officials on the operations and management of critical infrastructure, and the provision of vocational and business management training);
- the provision of agricultural-related services (such as the refurbishment of mills, silos, and bakeries to improve food security; the provision of veterinary health services and pharmaceuticals to promote the health of livestock; and training and distribution of agricultural related items); and
- activities related to shelter and settlement assistance, and clean water assistance (such as the rehabilitation and restoration of conflict-damaged water systems, sanitation, and hygiene infrastructure; supplying associated spare parts, training, and support for maintenance of equipment; and rehabilitation of irrigation pumps and canals).
For transactions and activities not otherwise authorized or exempt from sanctions, OFAC considers license requests on a case-by-case basis. Individuals, NGOs, companies, or financial institutions with questions about engaging in or processing transactions or activities related to this authorization can contact OFAC’s Sanctions Compliance and Evaluation Division most efficiently via email at OFAC_Feedback@treasury.gov. Sanctions Compliance and Evaluation may also be reached via phone at (800) 540-6322 or (202) 622-2490.
And the new version of GL8 extends the expiration date of the authorization until June 1, 2022.