OFAC targets Zhao Wei Transnational Criminal Organisation

OFAC3OFAC has designated the Zhao Wei Transnational Criminal Organisation pursuant to Executive Order 13581. Based in the Golden Triangle Special Economic Zone of Laos, the organisation is alleged to have exploited that region by “engaging in drug trafficking, human trafficking, money laundering, bribery, and wildlife trafficking”.

In conjunction, OFAC has also designated a network of 4 individuals and 3 entities across 3 jurisdictions (Laos, Thailand and China), for “materially assisting, sponsoring, or providing financial, material, or technological support for, or goods or services to or in support of, the Zhao Wei TCO, or for being owned or controlled by persons designated as part of this action”. Furthermore, the Kings Romans Casino (Laos) is alleged to be the main facilitator of the illicit activity in question. Links here for OFAC Notice and US Treasury press release.

UN extends sanctions against CAR

UN1The UN Security Council has passed UNSC Resolution 2399 (2018), which extends its sanctions regime against the Central African Republic (CAR). As a result, the existing arms embargo, travel bans and asset freezes will continue to operate until 31 January 2019. UN press release here.

UK issues guidance on MOD Form 680 applications

ECOThe UK Export Control Joint Unit (ECJU) has issued Guidance to exporters on completing MOD Form 680 applications for permission to release information about classified goods and services to foreign nations (applications are made via SPIRE which is an online export licensing system owned and managed by the Department for International Trade).

OFSI renews Hizballah Military Wing’s TAFA designation

OFSI1The UK Office of Financial Sanctions Implementation (OFSI) has renewed the terrorism listing of the Hizballah Military Wing under the Terrorist Asset-Freezing etc. Act 2010 (TAFA). The OFSI Notice explains that the entity may appeal OFSI’s decision to the High Court (or, in Scotland, to the Court of Session) under section 26 of TAFA.

EU renews all listings under Tunisia sanctions regime

Tunisia1.jpgThe EU has renewed the listings of all persons and entities (and amended one entry) under its Tunisia sanctions list until 31 January 2019, namely, all those appearing in the Annex to Council Decision 2011/72/CFSP (as amended by Council Decision (CFSP) 2018/141) and in Annex I to Council Regulation (EU) 101/2011 (as implemented by Council Implementing Regulation (EU) 2018/137). The EU Notice explains that those affected may submit a request to the EU Council for a reconsideration of the decision before 31 October 2018. The EU announced its intention to renew these restrictive measures on 8 December 2017 (previous blog here).

The EU has also published a Notice notifying 3 people listed under its Egypt sanctions list that it holds “new elements” relating to their designation, and that it intends to amend the statement of reasons in relation to 2 of them. The Notice explains that the affected persons may submit a request to the EU Council to obtain the new information before 2 February 2018.

US publishes ‘Russian Oligarch List’ of 210 names

US-Russia.jpgPursuant to section 241(a)(1) of the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act of 2017 (CAATSA), the US Treasury has published an unclassified Report, listing 114 ‘senior foreign political figures’ and 96 ‘oligarchs’ in the Russian Federation, determined by their “closeness to the Russian regime and their net worth”. The Report makes clear that “it is not a sanctions list”; while some people mentioned may have been sanctioned pursuant to other authorities,  inclusion of individuals or entities in the Report should not be interpreted as imposing sanctions on them (OFAC FAQ reiterates this point).

The 114-long list of ‘senior foreign political figures’ consists of (inter alia) senior members of the Russian Presidential Administration, members of the Russian Cabinet, and other senior political leaders, including the leadership of the State Duma and Federation Council, members of the Russian Security Council, and senior executives at state-owned enterprises (individuals listed in Appendix A to the Report). The 96-long list of ‘oligarchs’ in the Russian Federation consists of those with an estimated net worth of $1bn or more (individuals listed in Appendix B to the Report).

Pursuant to section 241(a)(2) of CAATSA, the US Treasury has also produced a classified annex on Russian parastatal entities (companies in which state ownership is at least 25% and that had 2016 revenues of approximately $2bn or more). The Report states that the classified annex may also include further individuals not included in Appendixes A and B (i.e. other senior foreign political figures and oligarchs in the Russian Federation), as well as people who hold a position below those included in the Report or have a net worth below $1bn.

Although the Report is not a sanctions list, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has informed the Senate Banking Committee that the Treasury would be using the Report to inform future targeted sanctions, and that “there will sanctions that come out of this”.

We previously reported that under section 231 of CAATSA, the US administration had until the 29 January 2018 to detail a list of people for sanctions that have knowingly engaged in a “significant transaction” with Russia’s defence or intelligence sectors. The State Department has stated that “when and if we have sanctions to announce, we will do so”.

Venezuela and Spain expel ambassadors over EU sanctions

Venezuela-Spain.jpgLast week, the Venezuelan government expelled the country’s Spanish ambassador. According to Venezuela’s Foreign Minister, this step was taken as a reaction to EU sanctions against the country (the EU recently imposed targeted measures against 7 Venezuelan officials – see here). President Maduro has previously made reference to “international economic sabotage” being inflicted to Venezuela’s economy, which he states is being led by Spain and the US. In response, Spain has announced that it will be expelling the Venezuelan ambassador.

The EU has issued a press release condemning the Venezuelan decision and expressing its “full solidarity” with Spain. It reiterates that EU decisions in the area of foreign policy are taken by unanimity and, as a result, calls for the Venezuelan decision to be reversed. Furthermore, the press release states that “the EU will keep monitoring the situation and [shall stand] ready to take appropriate measures in light of developments”. French President Macron has called for further EU sanctions against Venezuela.

New US Russia designations

US Treasury BuildingOFAC has designated 21 people and 9 entities, and added 12 entities to its Russia / Ukraine Sectoral Sanctions Identification List.

These measures were taken to “maintain sanctions pressure on Russia until it fully implements its commitments under the Minsk agreements” and to underscore the “US government’s opposition to Russia’s occupation of Crimea”.

11 people were designated pursuant to EO 13660 for being “Ukrainian separatists… responsible for or complicit in, or having engaged in, directly or indirectly, actions or policies that threaten the peace, security, stability, sovereignty, or territorial integrity of Ukraine; or for asserting governmental authority over a part or region of Ukraine without the authorization of the Government of Ukraine”. Pursuant to the same EO, OFAC also designated 3 people and 4 entities “who have supported the illicit coal trade from [Ukraine]”.

4 people and 2 entities were designated pursuant to EO 13661, which authorises sanctions against (inter alia) officials of the Russian government and any individual or entity that has acted for or on behalf of, or supported, an individual or entity previously designated under this EO.

1 construction company and 2 associated people were designated pursuant to EO 13685, which authorises sanctions against (inter alia) any person determined to operate in the Crimea region of Ukraine. Under the same EO, OFAC also designated 1 person and 2 entities “related to Russia’s transfer of four turbines made by a Russian-German joint venture to Crimea”.

OFAC also identified 12 subsidiaries that are 50% or more owned by Surgutneftegaz, an entity which was added to the Sectoral Sanctions Identification List (SSI List) in September 2014 under Directive 4.  The subsidiaries are subject to the same restrictions as their parent.  See OFAC’s revised guidance on Entities Owned by Persons Whose Property and Interests in Property Are Blocked (50% Rule). Links here for OFAC Notice and US Treasury press release.