office of foreign assets control

Since the U.S. Government determined that Russia interfered in the 2016 election[1], movement around Russia sanctions policy has been vigorous, if not unidirectional. In 2016, the United States implemented twice sanctions against Russia: In September, dozens of individuals and entities were sanctioned with regards to Russian operations in Crimea. In December, President Obama expelled 35 Russian intelligence agents from the U.S. and imposed sanctions on two major intelligence services, as a response to those interferences from Russia. In 2017, concerned that the new Administration might roll back certain sanctions on Russia, Congress overwhelmingly passed the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act, codifying and adding to sanctions on Russia already in place (which we reported on here).

In January, we anticipated two more moves mandated under CAATSA: 1) the publication of a List of Senior Political Figures and Oligarchs in the Russian Federation and 2) sanctions against entities and individuals that had conducted significant transactions with the defense and intelligence sectors in Russia. It appears that one was a feint and the other, a flop.
Continue Reading Lurches, Leaps, Feints, and Flops: Movements Without Motion in Russian Sanctions Policy

On July 27, 2017, the U.S. Congress sent to President Trump’s desk a bill that imposes new financial sanctions against Russia, Iran, and North Korea. It appears nearly certain that the president will sign that bill, now called the “Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act” (CAATSA). Edit: President Trump signed the bill on August 2, 2017.
Continue Reading In the Chaos of (Trade) War, Where Does Your Company Find Peace?

In our last post, we made a few cocky predictions about the new Trump Administration’s Cuba policy. We correctly asserted that the President would try to chart a narrow course between the Scylla of conservative Cuban-American expectations for an outright return to the embargo and the Charybdis of U.S. interests (business, strategic, and cultural) in improving Cuban relations. But how did our more substantive predictions fare? Okay, it’s a little hard to tell from the President’s actual speech, which was not full of policy detail. Fortunately, there is the Department of Treasury, whose overworked, understaffed Office of Foreign Assets Control provided a helpful FAQ page, and the White House staff, who produced a fact sheet on the new policy. In any event, nothing is final until OFAC issues regulations to implement the new policy.
Continue Reading Our Cuba Sanctions Predictions: How Did We Do?

On April 3, 2017, the UK Treasury’s Office of Financial Sanctions Implementation (OFSI) announced new penalties for economic sanctions violations of £1 Million or 50% of the value of the transaction, whichever is higher. As a result, this new detective has a powerful new enforcement tool, and it may be taking notes from the aggressive U.S. sanctions enforcers.
Continue Reading A New Sleuth in Britain: The UK Quietly Empowers a Sanctions Enforcement Office

Article Highlights:

  • Non-U.S. banks can do business with Iran and continue their relationships with U.S. banks.
  • Non-U.S. companies may use proceeds from Iran transactions more freely, including in the United States.
  • OFAC draws a clearer line with respect to the use of Iran-related funds.

After the Iran nuclear agreement, as non-U.S. companies entered into newly-permitted business in Iran, they faced the difficult question of where they could put the money from their Iran business. U.S. law still prohibits U.S. persons (including U.S. banks) from conducting most business with Iran. Among other rules, OFAC regulations and guidance provided that “Iran-related” funds could not transit the U.S. financial system. But the guidance did not state clearly what constituted “Iran-related” funds. For that reason, foreign financial institutions (FFIs) hesitated, even feared, to process Iran-related transactions because of the risks of sending Iran-related funds into the U.S. financial system in violation of U.S. sanctions. However, a new clarification in the OFAC guidance could change all of that (and change it in the way we proposed right here in this blog[1]).


Continue Reading Those Three Little Words: OFAC’s Subtle Language Shift Could Create Sweeping Change on Iran Investment

On July 29, 2016, the U.S. Treasury Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) cleared the runway for non-U.S. operators of civil aircraft to send flights into Iran. New  “General License J” authorizes many Boeing, Airbus, and other civil aircraft containing U.S.-origin materials to fly to Iran on “temporary sojourn.” The General License provides a great opportunity for non-U.S. aircraft owners and operators. However, a series of complex conditions may complicate ground handling agreements, damp or dry lease arrangements, code sharing, or other transactions related to providing service to Iran.
Continue Reading Layover in Tehran: United States Authorizes Carriers to Land Civil Aircraft in Iran