Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Earlier today, OFAC issued a new Venezuela General License “Authorizing Transactions Involving Certain Government of Venezuela Persons”:

GENERAL LICENSE NO. 34

Authorizing Transactions Involving Certain Government of Venezuela Persons

(a) Except as provided in paragraph (c) of this general license, all transactions and activities prohibited by Executive Order (E.O.) 13884 involving one or more individuals who meet the definition of the “Government of Venezuela,” as defined in E.O. 13884, including all transactions that involve property in which such individuals have an interest, are authorized, provided that the individuals are one or more of the following:

(1) United States citizens;

(2) Permanent resident aliens of the United States;

(3) Individuals in the United States 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; or

(4) Former employees and contractors of the Government of Venezuela.

(b) Except as provided in paragraph (c), all transactions necessary to unblock property or interests in property that were blocked solely pursuant to E.O. 13884, including the return or processing of funds, for individuals described in paragraph (a) of this general license are authorized.

(c) This general license does not authorize:

(1) The unblocking of any property blocked pursuant to E.O. 13884, or any part of 31 C.F.R. chapter V, except as authorized by paragraph (a) or (b); or

(2) Any transactions or dealings otherwise prohibited by E.O. 13884, or E.O. 13850 of November 1, 2018, E.O. 13835 of May 21, 2018, E.O. 13827 of March 19, 2018, E.O. 13808 of August 24, 2017, or E.O. 13692 of March 8, 2015, each as amended by E.O. 13857 of January 25, 2019, or any part of 31 C.F.R. chapter V, or any transactions or dealings with any blocked person, including persons meeting the definition of the “Government of Venezuela” in

E.O. 13884, other than the individuals described in paragraph (a) of this general license.

(d)U.S. persons unblocking property pursuant to paragraph (a) or (b) of this general license are required, within 10 business days from the date the property is unblocked, to file a report detailing the information required by 31 C.F.R. § 501.603(b)(3)(ii), with the Office of Foreign Assets Control, Office of Compliance and Enforcement, U.S. Department of the Treasury, 1500 Pennsylvania Avenue N.W., Freedman’s Bank Building, Washington, DC 20220, or via email to OFACReport@treasury.gov.

And amended FAQ 680:

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 34 authorizes transactions with certain Government of Venezuela individuals, including United States citizens; permanent resident aliens of the United States; individuals in the United States 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; and former employees and contractors of the Government of Venezuela.  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. [09-09-2019]

Links:

OFAC Notice

General License 34

FAQ 680

Publication of Updated Cuban Assets Control Regulations (CACR) and Frequently Asked Questions

The Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) is amending the Cuban Assets Control Regulations, 31 C.F.R. part 515 (CACR), to further implement portions of the President’s foreign policy toward Cuba.  In accordance with announced changes related to remittances and certain kinds of financial transactions, OFAC is amending the CACR to: i) revise certain authorizations for remittances to Cuba to impose new requirements and limitations; and ii) revise the authorization commonly known as the “U-turn” general license to eliminate the authorization for banking institutions subject to U.S. jurisdiction to process certain kinds of financial transactions.  The CACR amendment will be published in the Federal Register on Monday, September 9, 2019 and will take effect on October 9, 2019.  OFAC is also publishing a number of updated Frequently Asked Questions and a Fact Sheet pertaining to this regulatory amendment.

The updated FAQs are part of that separate Cuba FAQ document (as opposed to being on OFAC’s FAQ page).

And Treasury issued a press release, which appears to be identical to the Fact Sheet:

PRESS RELEASES

Treasury Issues Changes to Strengthen Cuba Sanctions Rules

WASHINGTON – Today, the Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) amended the Cuban Assets Control Regulations (CACR) to further implement President Trump’s June 2017 National Security Presidential Memorandum (NSPM) Strengthening the Policy of the United States Towards Cuba.  The changes amend certain authorizations related to the provision of remittances to Cuba and eliminate the authorization for specific financial transactions known as “U-turn” transactions.

“We are taking additional steps to financially isolate the Cuban regime.  The United States holds the Cuban regime accountable for its oppression of the Cuban people and support of other dictatorships throughout the region, such as the illegitimate Maduro regime,” said Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.  “Through these regulatory amendments, Treasury is denying Cuba access to hard currency, and we are curbing the Cuban government’s bad behavior while continuing to support the long-suffering people of Cuba.”

These actions mark an ongoing commitment to implement the President’s Cuba policy.  Previously, on June 5, 2019, OFAC further restricted non-family travel to Cuba by removing an authorization for group people-to-people educational travel, pursuant to an April 17, 2019 foreign policy announcement.  The Treasury changes announced today will take effect on October 9, 2019, which is 30 days from the date the regulations will be published in the Federal Register.

For the latest changes to the Treasury regulations, which can be found at 31 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) part 515.  Major elements of the changes in the revised regulations include:

REMITTANCES

                                                                              

  • Family remittances:  OFAC is placing a cap of $1,000 U.S. dollars per quarter that one remitter can send per quarter to one Cuban national, and is prohibiting remittances to close family members of prohibited Cuban officials and members of the Cuban Communist Party.

 

  • Donative remittances:  OFAC is eliminating the authorization for donative remittances.  

 

  • Remittances to certain individuals and independent non-governmental organizations in Cuba:  OFAC is adding a provision authorizing such remittances to support the operation of economic activity in the non-state sector by self-employed individuals, in light of the NSPM’s policy to encourage the growth of the Cuban private sector independent of government control.
     

 “U-TURN” TRANSACTIONS

 

  • OFAC is removing the authorization for banking institutions subject to U.S. jurisdiction to process certain funds transfers originating and terminating outside the United States, commonly known as “U-turn” transactions.  Banking institutions subject to U.S. jurisdiction will be authorized to reject such transactions, but may no longer process the transactions.

And the State Department didn’t want to be left out of the fun:

Today, the Department of the Treasury took action to prevent U.S. remittances to Cuba from enriching Cuban regime insiders and their families and to restrict Cuba’s access to the U.S. financial system.

Going forward, U.S. persons are no longer allowed to send family remittances to close relatives of prohibited officials of the Government of Cuba or close relatives of prohibited members of the Cuban Communist Party.  U.S. persons will also no longer be allowed to send donative remittances, or remittances regardless of familial relationships, to Cuba.

In line with the President’s foreign policy on Cuba, these actions are designed to target the Cuban regime while continuing to provide vital relief to the long-suffering people of Cuba.  As National Security Advisor Bolton said in April, “we know that families in the United States want to help their loved ones in Cuba, and we want Cubans to get the support they need and deserve…we know that these remittances are critical to families.”  For this reason, remittances to support family members are permitted up to $1,000 per quarter per person, and remittances to private businesses, human rights groups, religious organizations, and other self-employed individuals operating in the non-state sector are authorized with no cap at this time.

The Department of the Treasury also restricted the Cuban regime’s access to the U.S. financial system by eliminating authorization for what are commonly known as “U-turn” transactions, funds transfers that originate and terminate outside the U.S. where neither the originator nor beneficiary is a person subject to U.S. jurisdiction.

The United States continues to hold Cuba accountable for its repression of the Cuban people, its interference in Venezuela, and its unconscionable support of the illegitimate former Maduro regime.  Despite widespread international condemnation, Maduro continues to undermine his country’s institutions and subvert the Venezuelan people’s right to self-determination.  Empowered by Cuba, he has created a humanitarian disaster that destabilizes the region.

For more information on the regulations, please refer to the following Department of the Treasury page:

https://www.treasury.gov/resource-center/sanctions/Programs/Pages/cuba.aspx

For further information, please contact WHA Press at WHA_Press@state.gov and EB Press at EB-A-PD-DL@state.gov.

Links:

OFAC Notice

Cuban Assets Control Regulations

Frequently Asked Questions

Fact Sheet

Treasury Press Release

State Department Press Release

Here’s the updated FAQ 296:

296. Will the provision of bunkering services to a non-Iranian vessel carrying non-sanctionable goods to or from Iran be subject to sanctions?

If a non-Iranian vessel is transporting non-sanctionable goods to or from Iran, the bunkering of that non-Iranian vessel in a country other than Iran — and related payments for these bunkering services — will not be subject to sanctions, only if (1) the transaction either does not involve U.S. persons (including U.S. financial institutions) or U.S.-owned or -controlled foreign entities, or the transaction is exempt from OFAC regulation or authorized by OFAC if it does involve U.S. persons (including U.S. financial institutions) or U.S.-owned or -controlled foreign entities, and (2) the transaction does not involve persons on OFAC’s List of Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons (SDN List) that have been designated in connection with Iran’s support for international terrorism or proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, including designated Iranian financial institutions or the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), or activity that is subject to other sanctions authorities. [09-05-2019]

and the new FAQs, all of which are about bunkering services:

691. Will the provision of bunkering services to a non-Iranian vessel carrying sanctionable goods to or from Iran be subject to sanctions?

If a non-Iranian vessel is transporting sanctionable goods to or from Iran (including, but not limited to, petroleum, petroleum products, or petrochemical products from Iran; goods used in connection with the automotive sector of Iran; or iron, iron products, aluminum, aluminum products, steel, steel products, copper, or copper products from Iran), bunkering of that non-Iranian vessel in a country other than Iran — and related payments for these bunkering services — risk being subject to sanctions unless an applicable waiver or exception applies. For example, persons providing bunkering services to a non-Iranian vessel transporting petroleum or petroleum products from Iran could be designated under subsection 1(a)(ii) of E.O. 13846 if such activities involve the provision of material support for, or goods or services to or in support of, NIOC or NICO. Persons that knowingly provide bunkering services to a non-Iranian vessel carrying only petroleum or petroleum products from Iran could likewise be sanctioned under section 3(a)(ii) of E.O. 13846 if that transaction is determined to be a significant transaction for the purchase, acquisition, sale, transport, or marketing of those items. [09-05-2019]


692. Will the provision of bunkering services for an Iranian vessel be subject to sanctions?

Section 1244(d)(1) of IFCA makes sanctionable knowingly selling, supplying, or transferring to or from Iran significant goods or services used in connection with Iran’s energy, shipping, or shipbuilding sectors. (See FAQ 289 above for an interpretation of “significant.”) The provision of bunkering services to a vessel flying the flag of the Islamic Republic of Iran, or owned, controlled, chartered, or operated directly or indirectly by, for, or on behalf of the Government of Iran (GOI) or an Iranian person, could be sanctionable under this authority, regardless of whether the transaction involves persons that have been determined to be part of Iran’s energy, shipping, or shipbuilding sectors pursuant to Section 1244(c) of IFCA. Likewise, pursuant to section 1244(d)(2) of IFCA, a foreign financial institution could be exposed to sanctions if it knowingly conducts or facilitates a significant financial transaction for the sale, supply, or transfer to or from Iran of goods or services used in connection with Iran’s energy, shipping, or shipbuilding sectors. Payments for the provision of bunkering services to a vessel flying the flag of the Islamic Republic of Iran or owned, controlled, chartered, or operated directly or indirectly by, for, or on behalf of the GOI or an Iranian person could be sanctionable under this authority, regardless of whether the transaction involves persons that have been determined to be part of Iran’s energy, shipping, or shipbuilding sectors pursuant to Section 1244(c) of IFCA. (See FAQ 295). 

In addition, non-U.S. persons that provide bunkering services for an Iranian vessel that has been identified as blocked property of an Iranian person on OFAC’s List of Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons — or that make related payments for these bunkering services — risk being designated themselves

However, the provision of bunkering services for an Iranian vessel transporting goods subject to an exception, such as agricultural commodities, food, medicine, or medical devices, to Iran, or subject to an applicable waiver — and the making of related payments for these bunkering services — will not be exposed to sanctions, unless the transactions involve persons on the SDN List that have been designated under E.O. 13224 or E.O. 13382 in connection with Iran’s support for international terrorism or proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, including certain designated Iranian financial institutions or the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), as described in section 104(c)(2)(E) of CISADA, or activity that is subject to other sanctions authorities. [09-05-2019]


297. Are there any exceptions to the sanctions provisions of section 1244 of IFCA? 

The following transactions are excepted from the provisions of section 1244 of IFCA.

a. Transactions for the sale of agricultural commodities, food, medicine, or medical devices to Iran or for the provision of humanitarian assistance to the people of Iran. 

b. The export of petroleum or petroleum products from Iran to a country with a significant reduction exception under section 1245(d)(4)(D)(i) of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012 (NDAA 2012). 

c. A significant financial transaction conducted or facilitated by a foreign financial institution (FFI), provided that a significant reduction exception under 1245(d)(4)(D)(i) of NDAA 2012 applies to the country with primary jurisdiction over the FFI and the financial transaction is for trade in goods or services (i) between Iran and the country with primary jurisdiction over the FFI and (ii) not otherwise subject to sanctions under the law of the United States, and any funds owed to Iran as a result of the trade are credited to an account located in the country with primary jurisdiction over the FFI. We anticipate the implementation of these trade requirements to be similar to the trade requirements set forth in the Iranian Financial Sanctions Regulations (IFSR), in particular 31 CFR §561.203(j) and 31 CFR §561.203(k). 

d. The sale, supply, or transfer of natural gas to or from Iran. IFCA section 1244, however, does set out sanctions that may apply to FFIs that conduct or facilitate a transaction for the sale, supply, or transfer of natural gas to or from Iran unless the financial transaction is for trade in goods or services (i) between Iran and the country with primary jurisdiction over the FFI and (ii) not otherwise subject to sanctions under the law of the United States, and any funds owed to Iran as a result of the trade are credited to an account located in the country with primary jurisdiction over the FFI. We anticipate the implementation of these trade requirements to be similar to the trade requirements set forth in the IFSR, in particular 31 CFR §561.203(j) and 31 CFR §561.203(k).

e. Certain activities relating to the pipeline project to supply natural gas from the Shah Deniz gas field in Azerbaijan to Europe and Turkey. [08-06-18]


315. Will routine payments or fees be subject to sanctions if they are made to a person determined to be a port operator in Iran and if the vessel is carrying non-sanctioned goods?

Any company involved in loading or unloading cargo in Iran should exercise great caution to avoid engaging in transactions with entities designated by the United States, including the Tidewater Middle East Co. which was designated for its involvement in Iran’s proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. However, to the extent that a shipping company transacts with port operators in Iran that have been identified as such under IFCA but not otherwise designated, and as long as such payments are limited strictly to routine fees including port dues, docking fees, or cargo handling fees, paid for the loading and unloading of non-sanctioned goods at Iranian ports, we anticipate that such transactions would not be considered significant transactions for the purposes of IFCA. Non-routine and/or large payments or fees that materially exceed standard industry rates could expose a person to sanctions. Furthermore, providing any port operator in Iran with any significant financial, material, technological, or other support could expose a person to sanctions. [08-06-18]

Links:

OFAC Notice

FAQ 296

New Iran FAQs

Publication of Amended Iranian Sanctions Regulations Regarding the Iron, Steel, Aluminum, and Copper Sectors of Iran

The Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) is amending the Iranian Financial Sanctions Regulations, changing the heading of the Iranian Human Rights Sanctions Regulations to the Iranian Sector and Human Rights Abuses Sanctions Regulations, and amending the renamed Iranian Sector and Human Rights Abuses Sanctions Regulations to implement Executive Order 13871, “Imposing Sanctions with Respect to the Iron, Steel, Aluminum, and Copper Sectors of Iran.”  In connection with the issuance of these regulations, OFAC is amending several FAQs and publishing several new FAQs. These regulatory amendments are currently available for public inspection with the Federal Register and will take effect upon publication in the Federal Register on August 7, 2019.  

And here are the new FAQs:

Frequently Asked Questions Regarding Executive Order (E.O.) “Imposing Sanctions with Respect to the Iron, Steel, Aluminum, and Copper Sectors of Iran” of May 8, 2019


666. What does E.O. 13871 do?

E.O. 13871 authorizes sanctions with respect to the iron, steel, aluminum, and copper sectors of Iran.

Section 1 of E.O. 13871 authorizes blocking sanctions on any person determined by the Secretary of the Treasury, in consultation with the Secretary of State:
(i) to be operating in the iron, steel, aluminum, or copper sector of Iran, or to be a person that owns, controls, or operates an entity that is part of the iron, steel, aluminum, or copper sector of Iran;

(ii) to have knowingly engaged, on or after the effective date of the order, in a significant transaction for the sale, supply, or transfer to Iran of significant goods or services used in connection with the iron, steel, aluminum, or copper sectors of Iran;

(iii) to have knowingly engaged, on or after the effective date of the order, in a significant transaction for the purchase, acquisition, sale, transport, or marketing of iron, iron products, aluminum, aluminum products, steel, steel products, copper, or copper products from Iran;

(iv) to have materially assisted, sponsored, or provided financial, material, or technological support for, or goods or services in support of any person whose property and interests in property are blocked pursuant to section 1; or

(v) to be owned or controlled by, or to have acted or purported to act for or on behalf of, directly or indirectly, any person whose property and interests in property are blocked pursuant to section 1.

Section 2 of E.O. 13871 authorizes correspondent and payable-through account sanctions on foreign financial institutions (FFIs) determined to have knowingly conducted or facilitated any significant financial transaction:

(i) for the sale, supply, or transfer to Iran of significant goods or services used in connection with the iron, steel, aluminum, or copper sectors of Iran;

(ii) for the purchase, acquisition, sale, transport, or marketing of iron, iron products, aluminum, aluminum products, steel, steel products, copper, or copper products from Iran; or

(iii) for or on behalf of any person whose property and interests in property are blocked pursuant to the order.

Sections 3-13 of E.O. 13871 contain exceptions, definitions, and other implementing provisions related to the sanctions. [08-06-2019]


667. When does E.O. 13871 become effective?

E.O. 13871 became effective upon signing. [08-06-2019] 


668. Is there a wind-down period?

Persons engaged in transactions that could be sanctioned under E.O. 13871 had a 90-day period after the issuance of E.O. 13871 to wind down those transactions without exposure to sanctions under E.O. 13871. Those persons were advised to take the necessary steps to wind down transactions by the end of the 90-day wind-down period to avoid exposure to sanctions, and that entering into new business that would be sanctionable under the E.O. on or after May 8, 2019 will not be considered wind-down activity and could be sanctioned even during the wind-down period.  The wind-down period expires on August 6, 2019. [08-06-2019] 


669. Does E.O. 13871 expand upon existing sanctions relating to trade with Iran in certain raw and semi-finished metals, such as aluminum and steel?

 

Yes. E.O. 13871 expands upon existing sanctions under section 1245 of IFCA on the sale, supply, or transfer, directly or indirectly, to or from Iran of certain materials, including raw and semi-finished metals such as aluminum and steel, as described in subsections 1245(a)(l)(B) or (C) of IFCA.

 

In addition, E.O. 13871 explicitly targets the iron and copper sectors of Iran. [08-06-2019] 


670. Are there exceptions to the sanctions imposed under E.O.13871?

Yes. The sanctions authorized under E.O. 13871 do not apply to transactions for the conduct of the official business of the United States Government or the United Nations (including its specialized agencies, programmes, funds, and related organizations) by employees, grantees, or contractors thereof. [08-06-2019] 


682. What does the August 06, 2019 regulatory amendment related to E.O. 13871 do?

The regulatory amendment: (i) implements the correspondent or payable-through account sanctions set forth in section 2 of E.O. 13871 by incorporating those provisions in the Iranian Financial Sanctions Regulations, 31 C.F.R. part 561 (IFSR); (ii) renames the Iranian Human Rights Regulations, 31 C.F.R. part 562, as the Iranian Sector and Human Rights Abuses Sanctions Regulations (ISHR); and (iii) implements the blocking sanctions set forth in section 1 of E.O. 13871 by incorporating those provisions in the ISHR. [08-06-2019]


671. How are the terms “significant transaction or transactions; significant financial services; significant financial transaction” interpreted for purposes of correspondent or payable-through account sanctions set forth in section 2 of E.O. 13871?

 

The interpretation of “significant transaction or transactions; significant financial services; significant financial transaction,” as described in the correspondent account sanctions in the IFSR, provides that the Department of the Treasury may consider the totality of the facts and circumstances and sets forth a list of broad factors that can play a role in the determination whether transactions, financial services, and financial transactions are significant, including:  (a) the size, number, and frequency of the transactions, financial services, or financial transactions; (b) the nature of the transactions, financial services, or financial transactions, including their type, complexity, and commercial purpose; (c) the level of awareness of management and whether the transactions are part of a pattern of conduct; (d) the nexus of the transactions, financial services, and financial transactions and blocked persons; (e) the impact of the transactions, financial services, and financial transactions on statutory objectives; (f) whether the transactions, financial services, and financial transactions involve deceptive practices; (g) whether the transactions solely involve the passive holdings of Central Bank of Iran (CBI) reserves or repayment by the CBI of official development assistance or the transfer of funds required as a condition of Iran’s membership in an international financial institution; and (h) other relevant factors that the Secretary of the Treasury deems relevant. (31 C.F.R. § 561.404). [08-06-2019]


683. How is the term “significant transaction or transactions” interpreted for purposes of blocking sanctions set forth in section 1 of E.O. 13871?

The interpretation of “significant transaction or transactions,” as described in the ISHR provides that the Department of the Treasury may consider the totality of the facts and circumstances and sets forth a list of broad factors that can play a role in the determination whether transactions are significant, including: (a) the size, number, and frequency of the transactions; (b) the nature of the transactions, or the goods or services for sale, supply, or transfer, including their type, complexity, and commercial purpose; (c) the level of awareness of management and whether the transactions are part of a pattern of conduct; (d) the nexus of the person that engaged in the transactions and the prohibited activities in sections 1(a)(ii) and 1(a)(iii) of E.O. 13871; (e) the impact of the transactions on the objectives of E.O. 13871; (f) whether the transactions attempt to obscure or conceal the actual parties or true nature of the transactions, or evade sanctions; and (g) other relevant factors that the Secretary of the Treasury deems relevant. (31 C.F.R. § 562.407). [08-06-2019]


684. What is the definition of the “iron sector of Iran”? 

The term iron sector of Iran means the mining, refining, processing, or manufacturing of iron or iron products in Iran. (31 C.F.R. § 561.336; 31 C.F.R. § 561.317). [08-06-2019] 


685. What is the definition of the “steel sector of Iran”?

The term steel sector of Iran means the iron-ore smelting, ferrous-scrap melting, refining, processing, or manufacturing of steel or steel products in Iran. (31 C.F.R. § 561.337; 31 C.F.R. § 562.318). [08-06-2019] 


686. What are the definitions of “iron, iron products, steel, and steel products”?

The terms iron, iron products, steel, and steel products mean any raw, semi-fabricated, fabricated, or finished form of iron, iron alloy, alloy steel, non-alloy steel, ferroalloys, pig iron, and spiegeleisen of all grades, sizes, and thicknesses, whether or not clad, plated, or coated, including in the following forms:  iron ores and concentrates, including roasted iron pyrites; pigs and blocks; ferrous products obtained by direct reduction of iron ore and other spongy ferrous products, in lumps or pellets; granules and powders; ingots, blooms billets, slabs, and beam blanks; flat-rolled products (plates, sheets, strips, and foils) either cut-to-length or in coils; bars and rods; structural profiles (beams, channels, angles, and other shapes); sheet piling; railway or tramway track construction materials; tubes, pipes, and hollow profiles; tube or pipe fittings; reservoirs, tanks, vats, and similar containers; wire, stranded wire, ropes, cables, and plaited band; castings, stampings, and forgings; and ferrous waste and scrap, including slag.  (31 C.F.R. § 561.335; 31 C.F.R. § 562.316). [08-06-2019] 


687. What is the definition of the “aluminum sector of Iran”?

The term aluminum sector of Iran means the mining, refining, processing, or manufacturing of aluminum or aluminum products in Iran.  (31 C.F.R. § 561.332; 31 C.F.R. § 562.313). [08-06-2019] 


688. What are the definitions of “aluminum” and “aluminum products”?

The terms aluminum and aluminum products mean any raw, semi-fabricated, fabricated, or finished form of aluminum or aluminum alloy of all grades, sizes, and thicknesses, including in the following forms:  ores and concentrates (e.g., bauxite and alumina); unwrought aluminum including ingots, slabs, and billets; powders and flakes; wrought aluminum including bars, rods, profiles, plates, sheets, strip, foil, tubes, and pipes; tube or pipe fittings; reservoirs, tanks, vats, and similar containers; wire, stranded wire, ropes, cables, and plaited band; castings, stampings, and forgings; waste and scrap, including slag, and any aluminum and aluminum products produced from the melting or recycling of aluminum scrap.  (31 C.F.R. § 561.331; 31 C.F.R. § 562.312). [08-06-2019] 


689. What is the definition of the “copper sector of Iran”?

The term copper sector of Iran means the mining, refining, processing, or manufacturing of copper or copper products in Iran.  (31 C.F.R. § 561.334; 31 C.F.R. § 562.314). [08-06-2019] 


690. What are the definitions of “copper” and “copper products”?

The terms copper and copper products mean any raw, semi-fabricated, fabricated, or finished form of copper or copper alloy of all grades, sizes, and thicknesses, including in the following forms:  ores and concentrates; copper mattes; cement copper (precipitated copper); refined, unrefined, wrought, or unwrought copper; billets; cathodes; bars, rods, profiles, plates, sheets, strips, foil, tubes, and pipes; tube and pipe fittings; powders and flakes; reservoirs, tanks, vats, and similar containers; wire, stranded wire, ropes, cables, and plaited band; castings, stampings, and forgings; and waste and scrap, including slag.  (31 C.F.R. § 561.333; 31 C.F.R. § 562.314). [08-06-2019]

Links:

OFAC notice

Iranian Financial Sanctions Regulations

New FAQs

679. Executive Order of August 5, 2019, “Blocking Property of the Government of Venezuela,” blocks all property and interests in property of the Government of Venezuela. What does this mean for the Government of the Interim President of Venezuela? 

 

The United States stands with the Venezuelan people and Interim President of Venezuela Juan Gerardo Guaidó Marquez (“Guaidó”) in opposition to the illegitimate former Maduro regime. By issuing General License 31, OFAC is authorizing transactions involving the Government of the Interim President of Venezuela that are prohibited by E.O. of August 5, 2019, or prohibited by E.O. 13850 with respect to certain persons appointed by Guaidó. This authorization covers the Venezuela National Assembly, including its members and staff, and any persons appointed or designated by the National Assembly to act on behalf of the Government of Venezuela. In addition, General License 31 authorizes transactions involving Interim President of Venezuela Guaidó, and any official, designee, or representative appointed or designated by Guaidó to act on behalf of the Government of Venezuela, including the Special Attorney General, and any staff of the foregoing individuals; any ambassador or other representative to the United States or to a third country appointed by Guaidó, and any staff of such ambassador or representative; any representative to an international organization appointed by Guaidó, and any staff of such representative; any person appointed by Guaidó to the board of directors (including any ad hoc board of directors) or appointed as an executive officer of a Government of Venezuela entity (including entities owned or controlled, directly or indirectly, by the Government of Venezuela); and any other person that is appointed or designated by any of the foregoing persons to act on behalf of the Government of Venezuela. [08-06-2019]


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. All property and interests in property of persons meeting the definition of the Government of Venezuela (see section 6(d) of E.O. 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. of August 5, 2019, unless exempt or authorized by OFAC. 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. of August 5, 2019, regardless of whether the person appears on the Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons list (SDN List). See General License 31 for guidance regarding the Government of the Interim President of Venezuela. 

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. [08-06-2019]


681. Does General License 28 extend the authorization of wind-down periods that have expired for Petroleos de Venezuela, S.A. (PdVSA), Banco Central de Venezuela (BCV), or other blocked Government of Venezuela persons?

 

No.  General License 28, “Authorizing Certain Activities Necessary to the Wind Down of Operations or Existing Contracts Involving the Government of Venezuela,” only authorizes dealings with persons blocked solely pursuant to E.O. of August 5, 2019; General License 28 does not authorize dealings with persons blocked under E.O.s 13692 or 13850, as amended, or any activities or transactions prohibited under E.O.s 13808, 13827, or 13835, each as amended.  

General licenses authorizing wind-down periods for previously designated Government of Venezuela entities (e.g., General License 11 pertaining to PdVSA and General License 19 pertaining to BCV) have expired, and all transactions and activities with such designated persons should have been wound down by the expiration of the applicable general license, absent specific authorization from OFAC.  

For clarity on the scope of each general license (including its expiration and the Executive orders or prohibitions the general license authorizes against), please refer to the header of each general license, relevant notes, and any specified expiration date. [08-06-2019]

Link:

New and updated FAQs

On Thursday, OFAC issued amended versions of Venezuela General Licenses 7, 8 and 13. General Licenses 8 and 13 were extended through July 27th, while section a of General License 7 “automatically renews on the first day of each month, and is valued for a period of 18 months from the effective date of General License No. 7B or the date of any subsequent renewal of General License No. 7B, whichever is later.”

Mr. Watchlist does not understand this – if it is valid for 18 months, why does it need to renew each month?

Also, the authorization in section b said it is valid through April 28th, which has already passed. Was this a mistake, or did they mean 2020 (or some other date)?

OFAC also issued a single new, unrelated FAQ:

672. Can I export or reexport diluents to Venezuela? 

No.  Diluents (including, for example, crude oil and naphtha) play a key role in the transportation and exportation of Venezuelan petroleum, a primary source of revenue for the illegitimate and corrupt Maduro regime, which the United States seeks to restrict further.  OFAC is amending General Licenses (GLs) 7A, 8, and 13  effective as of June 6, 2019, to restrict U.S. persons engaging in transactions and activities authorized by those GLs from exporting or reexporting diluents, directly or indirectly, to Venezuela, or from engaging in transactions or activities related thereto. 

 

Absent authorization from OFAC, all U.S. persons continue to be prohibited from engaging in any dealings with Petróleos de Venezuela, S.A. (PdVSA), or any entity in which PdVSA owns, directly or indirectly, a 50 percent or greater interest.  In addition, non-U.S. persons could be subject to designation pursuant to Executive Order 13850, as amended, for operating within the oil sector of the Venezuelan economy, or for having materially assisted, sponsored, or provided financial, material, or technological support for, or goods or services to or in support of PdVSA, including the exportation or reexportation of diluents to PdVSA.  

 

Given PdVSA’s role as Venezuela’s state-owned oil company, exports or reexports of diluents to Venezuela likely include a direct or indirect interest of PdVSA.  As a result, persons directly or indirectly exporting or reexporting diluents to Venezuela should exercise enhanced due diligence to verify the ultimate end user and ensure that the transaction does not involve a direct or indirect interest of a sanctioned person, including PdVSA, even if the sanctioned person is not identified as a participant in the transaction. [06-06-2019] 

Links:

OFAC Notice

General License 7B

General License 8A

General License 13A

FAQ 672

On Tuesday, OFAC issued amended Cuban Asset Control Regulations (CACR), which ends group people-to-people travel. And BIS (part of the Commerce Department) amended the Export Administration Regulations (EAR) to end exports of a number of types of ships and aircraft which previously were eligible to be licensed. OFAC also issued an updated Cuba FAQ document and a Fact Sheet.

And there was a veritable slew of press statements – here’s Treasury’s:

PRESS RELEASES

Treasury and Commerce Implement Changes to Cuba Sanctions Rules

WASHINGTON – Today, the Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) unveiled amendments to the Cuban Assets Control Regulations (CACR) to further implement the President’s foreign policy on Cuba.  These amendments complement changes to the Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) Export Administration Regulations (EAR), which Commerce is also unveiling today.  These regulatory changes were announced on April 17, 2019 and include restrictions on non-family travel to Cuba.  

“Cuba continues to play a destabilizing role in the Western Hemisphere, providing a communist foothold in the region and propping up U.S. adversaries in places like Venezuela and Nicaragua by fomenting instability, undermining the rule of law, and suppressing democratic processes,” said Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.  “This Administration has made a strategic decision to reverse the loosening of sanctions and other restrictions on the Cuban regime.  These actions will help to keep U.S. dollars out of the hands of Cuban military, intelligence, and security services.”

These actions mark a continued commitment towards implementing the National Security Presidential Memorandum signed by the President on June 16, 2017 titled “Strengthening the Policy of the United States Toward Cuba.”  These policies continue to work to channel economic activities away from the Cuban military, intelligence, and security services.  The Treasury changes will take effect on June 5, 2019 when the regulations are published in the Federal Register. 

For the Treasury regulations, which can be found at 31 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) part 515, see here.  For the Commerce regulations, which can be found at 15 CFR parts 730-774, see here.  Major elements of the changes in the revised regulations include:  

ENDING GROUP PEOPLE-TO-PEOPLE TRAVEL                                                                              

  • In accordance with the newly announced changes to non-family travel to Cuba, OFAC is amending the regulations to remove the authorization for group people-to-people educational travel.  OFAC’s regulatory changes include a “grandfathering” provision, which provides that certain group people-to-people educational travel that previously was authorized will continue to be authorized where the traveler had already completed at least one travel-related transaction (such as purchasing a flight or reserving accommodation) prior to June 5, 2019. Please note that travel-related transactions continue to be permitted by general licenses for certain categories of travel and certain authorized export transactions.  For more on authorized travel to Cuba, please click here

ENDING EXPORTS OF PASSENGER VESSELS, RECREATIONAL VESSELS, AND PRIVATE AIRCRAFT 

  • BIS, in coordination with OFAC, is amending the EAR to make passenger and recreational vessels and private and corporate aircraft ineligible for a license exception and to establish a general policy of denial for license applications involving those vessels and aircraft. 

Links:

OFAC Notice

Cuban Asset Control Regulations

FAQ

Fact Sheet

Treasury Press Release

BIS Press Release

State Department Press Guidance