Venezuela brings WTO complaint against US sanctions

WTOVenezuela has initiated WTO dispute consultations with the US, claiming that certain US laws and regulations relating to goods of Venezuelan origin, the liquidity of Venezuelan public debt, transactions in Venezuelan digital currency, and the SDN List are inconsistent with the WTO’s General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) 1994 and the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS). After 60 days, if the consultations have failed to resolve the dispute, Venezuela may request adjudication by a panel. See WTO Press Release.

OFAC sanctions Venezuelans involved in corrupt currency exchange scheme

US Treasury BuildingToday (8 January), OFAC designated 7 Venezuelan individuals and 23 entities, pursuant to Executive Order 13850 (asset freeze and travel ban), for their involvement in a “significant corruption scheme designed to take advantage of the Government of Venezuela’s currency exchange practices, generating more than $2.4 billion in corrupt proceeds”. The designations include 2 former Venezuelan National Treasurers, Claudia Patricia Diaz Guillen and Alejandro Jose Andrade Cedeno. OFAC also identified 1 private aircraft as block property (N133JA). See OFAC Notice and US Treasury Press Release.

Furthermore, OFAC has issued Venezuela-related General Licence 6, which authorises US persons to engage in specified transactions related to winding down or maintaining business with Globovision Tele CA and Globovision Tele CA Corp, which were designated in today’s action, until 8 January 2020. See New OFAC FAQ about this general licence.

EU renews Venezuela sanctions for 1 year

EU5The EU has renewed its Venezuela sanctions for 1 year, until 14 November 2019, in “view of the continuing deterioration of the situation in Venezuela” – see Council Decision (CFSP) 2018/1656, Council Implementing Regulation (EU) 2018/1653, and EU press release.

The sanctions comprise an embargo on arms and on equipment capable of use for internal repression, as well as targeted measures (travel bans and asset freezes) on 18 individuals holding official positions of whom have been responsible for “human rights violations and for undermining democracy and the rule of law in Venezuela”.

USA issues new Venezuela Executive Order

US Flag2.jpgYesterday, President Donald Trump expanded US sanctions on Venezuela by issuing a new Executive Order, which imposes (in summary) a travel ban and asset freeze on those who “unjustly benefit from dishonest or fraudulent conduct, illicit activity, and/or deceptive transactions within Venezuela’s gold sector or other identified sectors, or in relation to the Government of Venezuela or its projects or programs”. See OFAC Notice, two new OFAC FAQs, and White House press release.

OFAC sanctions Venezuelan President Maduro’s wife & other members of inner circle

Maduro2.jpgYesterday (26 September), OFAC sanctioned 4 members of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro’s inner circle, of whom he has relied upon to “maintain his grip on power”: Cilia Adela Flores de Maduro (First Lady and former Attorney General and President of the National Assembly of Venezuela); Delcy Eloina Rodriguez Gomez (Executive Vice President of Venezuela); Jorge Jesus Rodriguez Gomez (Venezuelan Minister of Popular Power for Communication and Information); and Vladimir Padrino Lopez (Venezuelan Defence Minister). They will now be subject to US travel bans and asset freezes, pursuant to Executive Order 13692.

OFAC also targeted a “network supporting a key front man for designated President of Venezuela’s National Constituent Assembly (ANC) Diosdado Cabello Rondon”. As a result, 3 entities (Averuca CA, Quiana Trading Limited, and Panazeate SL) and 2 individuals (Jose Omar Paredas and Edgar Alberto Sarria Diaz) have been sanctioned (travel bans and asset freezes imposed). Furthermore, a $20 million Gulfstream 200 private jet, tail number N488RC, located in Florida, has been identified as blocked property. See OFAC Notice and US Treasury press release.

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.