Sanctions Regulations

The State Department is imposing visa restrictions under the Immigration and Nationality Act Section 212(a)(3)(C) on Cuban officials responsible for certain exploitative and coercive labor practices as part of Cuba’s overseas medical missions program.  Profiting from the work of the Cuban doctors has been the decades-long practice of the Castros, and it continues today.  These practices include requiring long work hours without rest, meager wages, unsafe housing, and restricted movement. The regime has also withheld passports and surveilled some doctors outside of work.  In addition, the regime has also compelled some Cuban doctors to use medical care as a political tool by providing care in exchange for pledges of loyalty.

Any health program that coerces, endangers, and exploits its own practitioners is fundamentally flawed.  We call on governments that currently engage with Cuba’s overseas medical programs to ensure safeguards against labor abuse and exploitation.

Link:

State Department press release

The Department is publicly designating Raul Modesto Castro Ruz, the First Secretary of the Central Committee of the Cuban Communist Party and General of the Cuban Revolutionary Armed Forces, under Section 7031(c) of the FY 2019 Department of State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Appropriations Act, due to his involvement in gross violations of human rights.  Section 7031(c) provides that, in cases where the Secretary of State has credible information that foreign government officials have been involved in significant corruption or a gross violation of human rights, those individuals and their immediate family members are ineligible for entry into the United States.

The law also requires the Secretary of State to publicly or privately designate such officials and their immediate family members.  In addition to the public designation of Raul Castro, the Department is also publicly designating his children, Alejandro Castro Espin, Deborah Castro Espin, Mariela Castro Espin, and Nilsa Castro Espin.

As First Secretary of the Cuban Communist Party, Raul Castro oversees a system that arbitrarily detains thousands of Cubans and currently holds more than 100 political prisoners.  As General of Cuba’s Armed Forces, Castro is responsible for Cuba’s actions to prop up the former Maduro regime in Venezuela through violence, intimidation, and repression.  In concert with Maduro’s military and intelligence officers, members of the Cuban security forces have been involved in gross human rights violations and abuses in Venezuela, including torture.  Castro is complicit in undermining Venezuela’s democracy and triggering the hemisphere’s largest humanitarian crisis, forcing 15 percent of the Venezuelan population to flee the country and precipitating a food shortage and health crisis of unprecedented scale in this region.

The United States strongly supports the rights of the Cuban and Venezuelan people.  We will continue to pursue all diplomatic and economic tools to help the Venezuelan people achieve the transition they deserve.

You have to wonder why the US government did this – they know it has minimal effect, if any. Is it just to show they’re being tough?

Link:

State Department Press Release

Today, the President announced a Presidential Proclamation restricting entry into the United States for senior Iranian government officials and members of their families.  For years, Iranian officials and their family members have quietly taken advantage of America’s freedom and prosperity, including excellent educational, employment, entertainment, and cultural opportunities in the United States.  Under this proclamation, designated senior regime officials and their families will no longer be allowed entry into the United States.  No longer will elites reap the benefits of a free society while the Iranian people suffer under the regime’s corruption and mismanagement.

This Presidential Proclamation is per the authority vested in the President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, including sections 212(f) and 215(a) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) (8 U.S.C. 1182 (f) and 1185 (a)) and section 301 of title 3, United States Code.

The Government of Iran is the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism. The regime has destabilized the Persian Gulf region with attacks on oil and shipping infrastructure.  Their support for the Houthis in Yemen and Shia militias in Iraq and Syria contribute to the regional instability and the humanitarian crises in those countries. The Iranian regime continues to suppress members of ethnic and religious minorities in Iran, as well as unjustly detaining foreign citizens to perpetuate their foreign policy aims.

America will no longer allow senior Iranian regime officials or their family members to continue to travel to the United States while their people suffer.

Link:

State Department statement

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

Publication of Nicaragua Sanctions Regulations

The Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) is issuing regulations to implement Executive Order 13851 of November 27, 2018 (“Blocking Property of Certain Persons Contributing to the Situation in Nicaragua”).  These regulations are currently available for public inspection with the Federal Register and will take effect upon publication in the Federal Register on September 4, 2019.  OFAC intends to supplement this part 582 with a more comprehensive set of regulations, which may include additional interpretive and definitional guidance and additional general licenses and statements of licensing policy.

Links:

OFAC Notice

Nicaragua Sanctions Regulations

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

Amendments to the Global Terrorism Sanctions Regulations (GTSR); Transnational Criminal Organizations Sanctions Regulations (TCOSR); and Hizballah Financial Sanctions Regulations (HFSR)

The Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) is amending the Global Terrorism Sanctions Regulations (GTSR); Transnational Criminal Organizations Sanctions Regulations (TCOSR); and Hizballah Financial Sanctions Regulations (HFSR), 31 CFR parts 566, 590 and 594.  This final rule implements and references recent legislation and a new Executive Order.

OFAC is amending the GTSR and the TCOSR to implement and reference the Hizballah International Financing Prevention Amendments Act (HIFPAA) of 2018.  OFAC is also amending the GTSR to implement and reference the Sanctioning the Use of Civilians as Defenseless Shields Act of 2018 (Shields Act).  OFAC is further amending the TCOSR to implement Executive Order 13863 of March 15, 2019 (“Taking Additional Steps to Address the National Emergency with respect to Significant Transnational Criminal Organizations”).  Finally, OFAC also is amending the HFSR, to make certain technical and conforming changes and to update certain provisions.  

This regulatory amendment is currently available for public inspection with the Federal Register and will take effect upon publication in the Federal Register on Tuesday, July 23, 2019.

Links:

OFAC Notice