US sanctions 4 Venezuelan government officials for ‘corruption and repression’

US Treasury BuildingActing pursuant to Executive Order 13692, OFAC has designated four current or former Venezuelan government officials for being “associated with corruption and repression in Venezuela” (asset freezes imposed).

The four individuals are: Rodolfo Clemente Marco Torres (Governor of Aragua State); Francisco Jose Rangel Gomez (Former Governor of Bolivar State); Fabio Enrique Zavarse Pabon (Commander of the Capital Integral Defense Operational Zone of the National Armed Forces); and Gerardo Jose Izquierdo Torres (State Minister for the New Border of Peace). Links here for the OFAC Notice and the US Treasury press release.

UK Venezuela regulations in force

Parliament1.jpgThe UK’s Venezuela (European Union Financial Sanctions) Regulations 2017, SI 2017/1094, came into force yesterday (6 December 2017). We previously reported that the Regulations make provision for UK enforcement, licensing, penalties etc in respect of Council Regulation (EU) 2017/2063, the EU’s sanctions on Venezuela.

UK provides for EU sanctions on Venezuela

Parliament3The UK has passed the Venezuela (European Union Financial Sanctions) Regulations 2017, SI 2017/1094, which comes into force on 6 December 2017.

The Regulations make provision for UK enforcement, licensing, penalties etc in respect of Council Regulation (EU) 2017/2063, the EU’s sanctions on Venezuela (see previous blog here).

EU imposes arms embargo and targeted sanctions on Venezuela

The EU Council has published its conclusions on the situation in Venezuela, where the it says democratic institutions have been eroded by the establishment of “an all-powerful Constituent Assembly” and the UN believes “extensive human rights violations and abuses” have taken place (UN report here).

As foreshadowed last week (see previous blog), the EU Council has decided to impose an arms embargo on Venezuela, and also to introduce a legal framework for travel bans and asset freezes against those involved in human rights violations and non-respect for democracy or the rule of law.

The Council says that the measures will be used “in a gradual and flexible manner” alongside its diplomatic and political efforts, and called on the Venezuelan government to hold credible and meaningful negotiations, respect democratic institutions, adopt a full electoral calendar, and liberate all political prisoners. Although the Council said that the sanctions can be reversed if Venezuela makes progress on these issues, it also warned that the sanctions may be expanded if the situation warrants.

The relevant legal measures are Council Regulation (EU) 2017/2063 and Council Decision (CFSP) 2017/2074.

EU to impose arms embargo on Venezuela

Venezuela1.jpgEU ambassadors have agreed to impose an arms embargo on Venezuela, as well as a ban on any equipment capable of being used to repress opponents within the state. Next week, EU Foreign Ministers will vote on whether to approve the measures. The proposed sanctions follow a UN report (published August 2017) which concluded that “extensive human rights violations and abuses” had been carried out in the context of country-wide anti-Government demonstrations.

In the US, the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) has added 9 individuals (and updated the details of one person) to its Venezuela sanctions list, see OFAC Notice here and FAQs here. The US Treasury has announced that all 10 individuals are “current or former Venezuelan government officials… associated with undermining electoral processes, media censorship, or corruption in government-administered food programs in Venezuela”. Furthermore, it is stated that this designation follows the 15 October 2017 state elections in Venezuela, which had been “marked by numerous irregularities”, strongly suggesting that “fraud [had] helped the ruling party unexpectedly win a majority of governorships.”

Canada lists 52 foreign nationals under Magnitsky law

Canada3.jpgPursuant to the recently passed Justice for Victims of Corrupt Foreign Officials Act (Sergei Magnitsky Law) (see previous blog here), Canada has imposed targeted sanctions on 52 foreign nationals (including 30 Russians) by enacting the Justice for Victims of Corrupt Foreign Officials Regulations. The Regulations were made in response to three different sets of circumstances, namely, “the case of Sergei Magnitsky, and incidents of corruption and gross human rights violations by officials linked to the Maduro regime and by officials in South Sudan”, see here.

The Regulations prohibit any person in Canada, or any Canadian outside of Canada, from dealing, directly or indirectly, with any of the listed foreign nationals.

In response to the measures, Russian authorities have imposed a ban on a number of Canadian public figures from entering Russia (without specifying who has been affected).

Canada sanctions 40 Venezuelans

Canada, like the USA, has imposed sanctions on senior Venezuelan officials and supporters of the Venezuelan government (see previous blog). The listings target 40 people, including President Nicolas Maduro, members of his cabinet, and members of Venezuela’s Supreme Court.  Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland echoed the US description of Venezuela as a “dictatorship”, and said that it was “important to send a signal to the leaders of the Maduro regime that their actions are unacceptable”.

President Trump addresses the UN on sanctions

President Trump has given his first address to the UN General Assembly, in which he made several comments relating to sanctions. He again criticised the JCPOA nuclear deal with Iran, describing it as “an embarrassment to the US” and creating further uncertainty about the deal’s future. World leaders have called on President Trump not to undermine the deal, which enjoys near-universal support among UN Member States.

The President also said that he would not lift the US trade embargo on Cuba until Cuba made “fundamental reforms”. In June, President Trump reinstated some of the sanctions on Cuba that were lifted by President Obama (see previous blog), chilling a relationship that had begun to thaw under the previous administration. In addition, he warned that the US was prepared to take further action against the administration of President Maduro of Venezuela, which the US describes as a dictatorship (see previous blog).