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June 6, 2022: OFAC adds & updates some Russia FAQs

New Russia-related Frequently-Asked Questions (FAQs):

Russian Harmful Foreign Activities Sanctions

1055. Do the new investment prohibitions of Executive Order (E.O.) 14066, E.O. 14068, or E.O. 14071 (collectively, “the respective E.O.s”) prohibit U.S. persons from lending funds to, or purchasing an equity interest in, entities located outside of the Russian Federation?  

No, provided that (i) such funds are not specifically intended for new projects or operations in the Russian Federation and (ii) the revenues of the entity located outside the Russian Federation are not predominantly derived from its investments in the Russian Federation.  For the purposes of assessing the foregoing, U.S. persons, including U.S. financial institutions, may reasonably rely upon the information available to them in the ordinary course of business.

Released on 06/06/2022

Russian Harmful Foreign Activities Sanctions

1054. Do the new investment prohibitions of Executive Order (E.O.) 14066, E.O. 14068, or E.O. 14071 (collectively, “the respective E.O.s”) prohibit U.S. persons from purchasing debt or equity securities issued by an entity in the Russian Federation?

Yes, the respective E.O.s prohibit U.S. persons from purchasing both new and existing debt and equity securities issued by an entity in the Russian Federation.  However, the new investment prohibitions of the respective E.O.s do not prohibit U.S. persons from selling or divesting, or facilitating the sale or divestment of, debt or equity securities issued by an entity in the Russian Federation to a non-U.S. person (see FAQs 1049 and 1053).  Please note that U.S. persons are not required to divest such securities and may continue to hold such previously acquired securities.  Moreover, the conversion of depositary receipts to underlying local shares of non-sanctioned Russian issuers would not be considered a prohibited “new investment” in the Russian Federation under the respective E.O.s.  

Additionally, the purchase of shares in a U.S. fund that contains debt or equity securities issued by entities in the Russian Federation generally would not be considered a prohibited “new investment,” under the respective E.O.s, so long as these holdings represent less than a predominant share by value of debt or equity securities issued by entities in the Russian Federation.  As a result, U.S. persons may continue to invest in the fund, and the fund may continue to operate.  Generally, the fund may also divest itself of these prohibited holdings.  

Please note that transactions must not involve blocked persons or other prohibited transactions unless exempt or otherwise authorized by OFAC.
 

Released on 06/06/2022

Russian Harmful Foreign Activities Sanctions

1053. Under the new investment prohibitions of Russia-related Executive Order (E.O.) 14066, E.O. 14068, or E.O. 14071 (collectively, “the respective E.O.s”), are transactions related to divestment permissible?

Yes.  Transactions related to the divestment or the facilitation of divestment of a pre-existing investment, including a pre-existing investment in an entity, project, or operation in the Russian Federation, are not prohibited by the new investment prohibitions of the respective E.O.s.  Such transactions may not involve a blocked person or otherwise prohibited transactions unless exempt or authorized by the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC).

The respective E.O.s prohibit any approval, financing, facilitation, or guarantee by a United States person, wherever located, of a transaction by a foreign person where the transaction by that foreign person would be prohibited if performed by a United States person or within the United States.  Such provisions do not prohibit U.S. persons from facilitating the wind down or divestment of an existing investment in the Russian Federation, provided that such facilitation is on behalf of the selling party only.  For example, a U.S. financial institution is not prohibited from advising a client that seeks to sell an equity interest in an entity located in the Russian Federation (i.e., the seller in a divestment transaction).  However, a U.S. person is prohibited from providing any approval, financing, facilitation, or guarantee to a non-U.S. person that seeks to acquire an equity interest in an entity located in the Russian Federation (i.e., the buyer in such a transaction).

Such provisions also do not prohibit U.S. persons from advising on the requirements of U.S. sanctions laws consistent with OFAC’s Guidance on the Provision of Certain Services Relating to the Requirements of U.S. Sanctions Laws.
 

Released on 06/06/2022

Russian Harmful Foreign Activities Sanctions

1052. Can U.S. persons continue to fund their subsidiaries and affiliates with projects or operations located in the Russian Federation prior to the effective dates of the new investment prohibitions of Executive Order (E.O.) 14066, E.O. 14068, or E.O. 14071 (collectively, “the respective E.O.s”)?

Yes, provided that the use of the funds by the subsidiary or affiliate is consistent with maintenance, as described in FAQ 1050.  “Maintenance” does not include the expansion of pre-existing projects or operations beyond those in effect prior to the effective dates of the respective E.O. prohibitions.  Therefore, U.S. persons may not fund new or expanded projects or operations undertaken by their subsidiaries and affiliates located in the Russian Federation after the effective dates of the respective E.O. prohibitions.

Released on 06/06/2022

Russian Harmful Foreign Activities Sanctions

1051. Is the export to the Russian Federation or import from the Russian Federation of goods, services, or technology considered “new investment” for the purposes of Russia-related Executive Order (E.O.) 14066, E.O. 14068, or E.O. 14071 (collectively, “the respective E.O.s”)?

The prohibitions on “new investment” pursuant to the respective E.O.s do not prohibit the export or import of goods, services, or technology, or related sales or purchases, to or from the Russian Federation, provided that such transaction is made pursuant to ordinary commercial sales terms (e.g., a payment of an invoice for goods made within the contracted time period, where such payment does not involve ongoing participation in royalties or ongoing profits) (see FAQ 1049).  Such transactions can be supported through traditional trade finance products, including commercial letters of credit and documentary collections.  U.S. persons are not prohibited pursuant to the respective E.O.s from entering into new contracts or agreements for such transactions.

However, please note that U.S. persons are prohibited or restricted from exporting, reexporting, or importing certain goods and services involving the Russian Federation, as described by law (see, for example, section 1(a)(i) of E.O. 14068; see also FAQ 415).

Released on 06/06/2022

Russian Harmful Foreign Activities Sanctions

1050. What types of transactions are considered to be “maintenance” activities described in FAQ 1049 and therefore outside the scope of the “new investment” prohibitions of Russia-related Executive Order (E.O.) 14066, E.O. 14068, or E.O. 14071 (collectively, “the respective E.O.s”)?

For the purposes of the respective E.O. prohibitions, “new investment” generally excludes the maintenance of investments in the Russian Federation that were made prior to the effective dates of the respective E.O. prohibitions (“pre-existing projects or operations”).  “Maintenance” of investments includes:  

  • Transactions to ensure continuity of pre-existing projects or operations located in the Russian Federation, including payments to employees, suppliers, landlords, lenders, and partners;
  • The preservation and upkeep of pre-existing tangible property in the Russian Federation; and
  • Activities associated with maintaining pre-existing capital investments or equity investments. 

As a general matter, “maintenance” includes all transactions ordinarily incident to performing under an agreement in effect prior to the effective date of the respective E.O. prohibitions (“pre-existing agreement”), provided that such transactions are consistent with previously established practices and support pre-existing projects or operations.  However, “maintenance” does not include the expansion of pre-existing projects or operations beyond those in effect prior to the effective dates of the respective E.O. prohibitions, even if pursuant to a pre-existing agreement, where such expansion occurs on or after the effective dates of the respective E.O. prohibitions.  Nor does “maintenance” include commitments pursuant to the exercise of rights under a pre-existing agreement where such commitment is made on or after the effective dates of the respective E.O. prohibitions.

In connection with maintenance activity, U.S. persons also may modify or alter pre-existing agreements, or enter into new contracts or agreements, provided that any transaction under such contracts or agreements are consistent with previously established practices and support pre-existing projects or operations.  For example, a pre-existing agreement may be modified, or new contract established, to substitute suppliers, conduct maintenance or repairs, or comply with new environmental or safety standards.  In assessing whether activity is consistent with past practice, the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) will consider all relevant facts and circumstances, including the transaction history between contract parties prior to the effective date of the respective E.O.s.

Note that maintenance activities must not involve blocked persons or other prohibited transactions unless exempt or otherwise authorized by OFAC.

Released on 06/06/2022

Russian Harmful Foreign Activities Sanctions

1049. For the purposes of Russia-related Executive Order (E.O.) 14066, E.O. 14068, or E.O. 14071 (collectively, “the respective E.O.s”), what is meant by the term “new investment”?

For the purposes of the respective E.O.s, the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) views “investment” as the commitment of capital or other assets for the purpose of generating returns or appreciation.  OFAC interprets “new” investment as such a commitment made on or after the effective date of the respective E.O. prohibitions.  As a general matter, new investment includes such commitments that are pursuant to an agreement entered on or after the effective dates of the respective E.O. prohibitions.  New investment also includes such commitments pursuant to the exercise of rights under an agreement entered into before the effective dates of the respective E.O. prohibitions, where such commitment is made on or after the effective dates of the respective E.O. prohibitions.  We note, however, that new investment does not include the maintenance of an investment made prior to the applicable effective dates of the respective E.O. prohibitions (see FAQ 1050). 

Unless exempt or otherwise authorized by OFAC, transactions that OFAC considers to be “new investment” for the purposes of the respective E.O. prohibitions include:

  • The purchase or acquisition of real estate in the Russian Federation, other than for noncommercial, personal use; 
  • Entry into an agreement requiring the commitment of capital or other assets for the establishment or expansion of projects or operations in the Russian Federation, including the formation of joint ventures or other corporate entities in the Russian Federation;
  • Entry into an agreement providing for the participation in royalties or ongoing profits in the Russian Federation;
  • The lending of funds to persons located in the Russian Federation for commercial purposes, including when such funds are intended to be used to fund a new or expanded project or operation in the Russian Federation;
  • The purchase of an equity interest in an entity located in the Russian Federation (see FAQs 1054 and 1055); and
  • The purchase or acquisition of rights to natural resources or exploitation thereof in the Russian Federation.

Examples of transactions that OFAC does not consider to be “new investment” for the purposes of the respective E.O. prohibitions include:

  • Entry into, performance of, or financing of a contract, pursuant to ordinary commercial sales terms, to sell or purchase goods, services, or technology to or from an entity in the Russian Federation (e.g., a payment of an invoice for goods, where payment is made within the contracted time period and such payment does not involve participation in royalties or ongoing profits);
  • Maintenance of an investment in the Russian Federation, where the investment was made prior to the effective date of the respective E.O. prohibitions, including maintenance of pre-existing entities, projects, or operations, including associated tangible property, in the Russian Federation (see FAQ 1050); and
  • Wind down or divestment of a pre-existing investment, such as a pre-existing investment in an entity, project, or operation, including any associated tangible property, located in the Russian Federation (see FAQs 1053 and 1054).

Even if a transaction is not a prohibited form of “new investment” pursuant to the respective E.O.s, U.S. persons engaging in the transaction must comply with all other relevant sanctions prohibitions, including those pursuant to Ukraine-/Russia-Related Sanctions Regulations and Russian Harmful Foreign Activities Sanctions Regulations (see, e.g., FAQ 415).  For example, the respective E.O.s include provisions prohibiting any approval, financing, facilitation, or guarantee by a United States person, wherever located, of a transaction by a foreign person where the transaction by that foreign person would be prohibited if performed by a United States person or within the United States.  For more information, see FAQ 1053.

Released on 06/06/2022

and updated ones:

Russian Harmful Foreign Activities Sanctions

1019. For the purposes of Executive Order (E.O.) 14066, what is meant by the term “Russian Federation origin”?

For the purposes of E.O. 14066, the Office of Foreign Assets Control anticipates publishing regulations defining the term “Russian Federation origin” to include goods produced, manufactured, extracted, or processed in the Russian Federation, excluding any Russian Federation origin good that has been incorporated or substantially transformed into a foreign-made product.

For information on prohibitions related to new investment pursuant to Russia-related E.O. 14066, E.O. 14068, and E.O. 14071, please see FAQs 1049-1055.

Updated: June 06, 2022

Updated on 06/06/2022

Russian Harmful Foreign Activities Sanctions

1005. Does Directive 4 under Executive Order (E.O.) 14024, “Prohibitions Related to Transactions Involving the Central Bank of the Russian Federation, the National Wealth Fund of the Russian Federation, and the Ministry of Finance of the Russian Federation” (Russia-related Sovereign Transactions Directive) prohibit trading in the secondary markets for Russian sovereign debt?

No, the Russia-related Sovereign Transactions Directive does not prohibit trading in the secondary markets for debt or equity of the Central Bank of the Russian Federation, the National Wealth Fund of the Russian Federation, or the Ministry of Finance of the Russian Federation (collectively, “Directive 4 entities”), provided that no Directive 4 entity is a counterparty to such a transaction.  Please note, however, that Directive 1A under E.O. 14024, “Prohibitions Related to Certain Sovereign Debt of the Russian Federation” (Russia-related Sovereign Debt Directive), prohibits U.S. financial institutions from participation in the secondary market for ruble or non-ruble denominated bonds issued after March 1, 2022 by the Directive 4 entities.  Moreover, the “new investment” prohibitions of E.O. 14066E.O. 14068, and E.O. 14071 prohibit U.S. persons from purchasing debt and equity securities issued by an entity in the Russian Federation.  Please see FAQ 1054.

With respect to the receipt of interest, dividend, or maturity payments made in connection with debt or equity of the Directive 4 entities, please see General License 9A and FAQ 981.

Updated: June 06, 2022

Updated on 06/06/2022

Links:

OFAC Notice

New FAQs

Updated FAQs

Categories: Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) Guidance OFAC Updates Russian Harmful Foreign Activities Sanctions

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