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Financial Services Law Insights and Observations

OFAC sanctions Nicaraguan mining authority; Biden issues new E.O. expanding Treasury’s authority to hold Nicaraguan regime accountable

Financial Crimes Of Interest to Non-US Persons OFAC Department of Treasury OFAC Sanctions OFAC Designations Biden Nicaragua

Financial Crimes

On October 24, the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) announced sanctions pursuant to Executive Order (E.O.) 13851 against the Nicaraguan mining authority General Directorate of Mines and a Government of Nicaragua official. OFAC stated that the mining authority is “being designated for being owned or controlled by, or having acted or purported to act for or on behalf of, directly or indirectly,” the Nicaraguan Minister of Energy and Mines whose property and interests in property were blocked in 2021. As a result of the sanctions, all property and interests in property belonging to the sanctioned persons in the U.S. are blocked and must be reported to OFAC. Additionally, “any entities that are owned, directly or indirectly, 50 percent or more in the aggregate by one or more of such persons are also blocked.” U.S. persons are prohibited from engaging in any dealings involving the property or interests in property of blocked or designated persons, unless exempt or authorized by a general or specific OFAC license.

The same day, President Biden signed a new E.O., Taking Additional Steps to Address the National Emergency With Respect to the Situation in Nicaragua, to amend E.O. 13851 and, according to the announcement, expand Treasury’s “authority to hold the Ortega-Murillo regime accountable for its continued attacks on Nicaraguans’ freedom of expression and assembly.” The new E.O. grants Treasury authority to target certain persons operating or that have operated in Nicaragua’s gold sector, as well as other sectors identified by Treasury in consultation with the State Department. According to OFAC’s announcement, the E.O. “provides expanded sanctions authorities that could be used to prohibit new U.S. investment in certain identified sectors in Nicaragua, the importation of certain products of Nicaraguan origin into the United States, or the exportation, from the United States, or by a United States person, wherever located, of certain items to Nicaragua.” In conjunction with the E.O., OFAC issued Nicaragua-related General License 4, which authorizes the wind down of transactions involving the Directorate General of Mines of the Nicaraguan Ministry of Energy and Mines that are otherwise normally prohibited by the Nicaragua Sanctions Regulations, and issued one related frequently asked question regarding that General License.