OFAC issues Venezuela General Licence 5

Logo_of_the_U.S._Office_of_Foreign_Assets_Control_(OFAC).jpgToday, OFAC has issued Venezuela General Licence 5, which authorises US persons to engage in all transactions related to, the provision of financing for, and other dealings in the Petroleos de Venezuela SA 2020 8.5 Percent Bond that would otherwise be prohibited by Subsection 1(a)(iii) of Executive Order (EO) 13835.

OFAC has also published 2 new Venezuela-related FAQs. The first explains why General Licence 5 has been issued, and the second provides details on whether EO 13835 prohibits a US person with a legal judgment against the Venezuelan government from attaching and executing against assets of the Venezuelan government.

Glencore subpoena from US DoJ

Glencore.jpgGlencore Ltd (a subsidiary of Glencore plc) announced today that it has received a subpoena from the US Department of Justice to produce documents relating to compliance with the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and US money laundering and sanctions legislation. The requested documents relate to the Glencore Group’s business in Nigeria, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Venezuela from 2007 onwards.

The subpoena comes weeks after Glencore settled a dispute in the DRC by agreeing to pay US-sanctioned Israeli businessman Dan Gertler (Glencore’s former business partner in the DRC) money he is owed from copper and cobalt mines. Glencore said that it would make the royalty payments to Mr Gertler in euros to comply with US sanctions.

EU sanctions 11 more Venezuelan officials

EU5Today, the EU has added 11 people that hold “official positions” to its targeted Venezuela sanctions list (asset freezes and travel bans). They have been listed on the grounds that they are responsible for “human rights violations and for undermining democracy and the rule of law in Venezuela”. See Council Decision (CFSP) 2018/901, Council Implementing Regulation (EU) 2018/899, and EU press release, and UK OFSI Notice.

These sanctions follow the EU Council conclusions adopted last month, which called for further targeted measures in response to the recent presidential elections held in Venezuela (previous blog). The EU first imposed targeted measures against Venezuela in January 2018, when it sanctioned 7 Venezuelan officials involved in the “non-respect of democratic principles or the rule of law as well as in the violation of human rights” (previous blog).

The 11 people sanctioned today: Tareck Zaidan El-Aissami Maddah; Sergio José Rivero Marcano; Jesús Rafael Suárez Chourio; Iván Hernández Dala; Delcy Eloina Rodríguez Gómez; Elías José Jaua Milano; Sandra Oblitas Ruzza; Freddy Alirio Bernal Rosales; Katherine Nayarith Harrington Padrón; Socorro Elizabeth Hernández Hernández; and Xavier Antonio Moreno Reyes.

Canada sanctions 14 Venezuelans

Canada3On 30 May 2018, the Canadian government sanctioned 14 individuals “responsible for the deterioration of democracy in Venezuela”, pursuant to the Special Economic Measures Act, by amending the Special Economic Measures (Venezuela) Regulations (40 people were originally listed in September 2017). As a result, asset freezes and financial prohibitions now apply to the 14 people (list of names here). Canadian press release here.

EU planning new sanctions against Venezuela

In a strongly worded statement issued today, EU Foreign Ministers agreed to impose additional sanctions against targeted individuals in Venezuela. The Foreign Ministers expressed concern about the credibility of the re-election of President Maduro on 20 May 2018 and promised that “the EU will act swiftly, according to established procedures, with the aim of imposing additional targeted and reversible restrictive measures, that do not harm the Venezuelan population, whose plight the EU wishes to alleviate.”

It is expected that the new measures will be adopted on 25 June. They will supplement the earlier EU sanctions against Venezuela described here.

USA issues new Venezuela Executive Order; increases sanctions

US Flag3.jpgYesterday, US President Trump announced that he had increased sanctions on Venezuela by issuing a new Executive Order, prohibiting US persons from transacting in:

(i) The purchase of any debt owed to the Venezuelan government (including accounts receivable);

(ii) Any debt owed to the Venezuelan government that is pledged as collateral after 21 May 2018 (including accounts receivable); and

(iii) The sale, transfer, assignment, or pledging as collateral by the Venezuelan government of any equity interest in any entity in which the Venezuelan government has a 50% or greater ownership interest.

Last week, OFAC sanctioned (inter alia) a number of current and former officials of the Venezuelan government (previous blog).

OFAC sanctions current & former officials of Venezuelan government

OFAC2Today, OFAC designated Venezuelan national Diosdado Cabello Rondón (First-Vice President of President Maduro’s political party), pursuant to Executive Order 13692, for being a current or former official of the Government of Venezuela. OFAC also designated 3 other individuals – José David Cabello Rondón (Mr Rondón’s brother), Marleny Josefina Contreras Hernández (Mr Rondón’s wife), and Rafael Alfredo Sarria Diaz (Mr Rondón’s “front man”) – for being current or former officials of the Government of Venezuela, or for acting for or on behalf of designated individuals as key figures in Mr Rondón’s “corruption network”. As a result, US travel bans and asset freezing measures apply to all designated individuals.

OFAC also sanctioned 3 Florida-based companies that are owned or controlled by Mr Diaz, namely: SAI Advisors Inc; Noor Plantation Investments LLC; and 11420 Corp (asset freezes imposed). Furthermore, 14 properties in Florida and New York, owned by Mr Diaz directly or through his companies have been blocked. See OFAC Notice and US Treasury press release.

OFAC sanctions “drug trafficking and money laundering network led by former senior Venezuelan intelligence officer”

OFAC3Yesterday, OFAC designated Venezuelan national Pedro Luis Martin Olivares as a significant narcotics trafficker pursuant to the US Kingpin Act. He is a “former Chief of Financial Intelligence for Venezuela’s National Directorate of Intelligence and Prevention Services” (now known as the Bolivarian National Intelligence Service). OFAC also designated Walter Alexander Del Nogal Marquez and Mario Antonio Rodriguez Espinoza for materially assisting/supporting the “international narcotics trafficking activities of [Mr Martin Olivares]”. OFAC further designated 20 companies in Venezuela and Panama that are “owned or controlled by these three individuals” and which are “allegedly [being] used to launder illicit proceeds from both narcotics trafficking and extortion”. As a result, asset freezing measures have been imposed on all of the designated individuals and entities. Links to OFAC Notice and US Treasury press release.