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On April 27, the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) issued General License No. 2E (GL 2E) to extend the authorization allowing nine Belarusian entities to enter into transactions otherwise prohibited by Executive Order 13405. GL 2E replaces and supersedes in its entirety General License No. 2D, and authorizes transactions with any entities that are owned 50 percent or more by the nine named entities. All property and interests in property of these entities, if blocked, remain blocked, and U.S. persons must report authorized transactions or any series of transactions exceeding $50,000 to the U.S. Department of State no later than 30 days after execution. The authorization expires on October 30, unless otherwise extended or revoked.
Visit here for additional InfoBytes coverage on Belarus General Licenses.
On January 5, the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) imposed additional sanctions against four current or former officials of the Venezuelan government. The designations, issued pursuant to Executive Order 13692, identify officials who are “associated with corruption and repression in Venezuela” and have “forsaken the professional republican mission of the military institution, which . . . is to be ‘with no political orientation … and in no case at the service of any person or political partisanship.’” All assets belonging to the identified individuals subject to U.S. jurisdiction are frozen, and U.S. persons are generally prohibited from dealing with them. See here for previous InfoBytes coverage of Venezuelan sanctions.
Separately on January 4, OFAC designated five Iranian entities, pursuant to Executive Order 13382 (E.O. 13382), for their ties to Iran’s ballistic missile program. The five entities identified in the designation are either owned or controlled by an Iranian group that is “responsible for the development and production of Iran's solid-propellant ballistic missiles, is listed in the Annex to E.O. 13382 and is currently sanctioned by the U.S., UN, and EU.” In addition to freezing assets subject to U.S. jurisdiction and prohibiting U.S. persons from engaging in transactions with the entities, “foreign financial institutions that knowingly facilitate significant transactions for, or persons that provide material or certain other support to, the entities designated today risk exposure to sanctions that could sever their access to the U.S. financial system or block their property and interests in property under U.S. jurisdiction.” See here for previous InfoBytes coverage of Iranian sanctions.
U.S. Government Revokes Certain Sanctions on Sudan Following Review Period of Sudanese Policies and Actions
On October 6, the U.S. Government announced, effective October 12, the revocation of certain economic sanctions against Sudan and the Government of Sudan (GOS) as a recognition of sustained positive actions in connection with efforts to cease hostilities, improve humanitarian access, promote regional stability, and address the threat of terrorism. As previously covered in InfoBytes, the announcement follows a joint review conducted by the Secretary of State, the Secretary of the Treasury, the Director of National Intelligence, and the Administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development that began in January 2017 as required by Executive Order 13761 and amended by Executive Order 13804. The Secretary of State issued a contemporaneous report concluding that, despite GOS’ demonstrated improvement in the areas that led to the issuance of Executive Order 13761, there remain a range of concerns. As such, while the comprehensive sanctions program has been lifted, certain sanctions and trade restrictions remain in place. Specifically:
- the national emergency, established in Executive Order 13067 with respect to Sudan, remains in effect;
- U.S. sanctions related to the conflict in Darfur, pursuant to Executive Order 13400, remain in place;
- The U.S. Government maintains the authority to designate Sudanese persons according to other relevant sanctions authorities; and
- Sudan remains on the list of state sponsors of terrorism, which will continue to impose restrictions on certain dealings involving Sudan, including U.S. foreign assistance and restrictions on defense exports and sales.
Following revocation of the sanctions, U.S. persons will no longer be banned from engaging in most transactions previously prohibited by the Sudanese Sanctions Regulations (31 C.F.R. Part 538).
The U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control also released updated FAQs to answer questions related to the revocation, along with a new general license that authorizes certain transactions.
On September 30, President Trump issued a Proclamation announcing October 2017 as National Cybersecurity Awareness Month. As part of the initiative, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) issued tools and resources for both consumers and organizations to manage cybersecurity risk. As previously covered in InfoBytes, the President issued an Executive Order earlier this year entitled “Strengthening the Cybersecurity of Federal Networks and Critical Infrastructure” that requires agencies to submit risk management reports to DHS and develop recommendations for cybersecurity improvements affecting all critical infrastructure, including the financial services industry.
On September 29, the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) amended Directive 1 and Directive 2 of its Ukrainian-/Russian-related Sectoral Sanctions, as required by the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act of 2017 (H.R. 3364), which was signed into law by President Trump in August. (See previous InfoBytes summary here.) As amended, Directive 1 prohibits U.S. persons from all dealings in equity issued on or after July 16, 2014, of persons determined by OFAC to be part of the Russian financial services sector. Directive 1 also prohibits U.S. persons from dealing in the following debt of such persons: (i) debt of over 90 days maturity issued on or after July 16, 2014, but prior to September 12, 2014; (ii) debt of over 30 days maturity issued on or after September 12, 2014, but before November 28, 2017; and (iii) debt of over 14 days maturity issued on or after November 28, 2017. As amended, Directive 2 prohibits U.S. persons from all dealings in the following debt of persons identified by OFAC to be part of the Russian energy sector: (i) all debt of over 90 days maturity issued on or after July 16, , but before November 28, 2017; and (ii) all debt of over 60 days maturity issued on or after November 28, 2017. OFAC also released updated FAQs to answer questions related to the amended directives.
On September 21, President Trump announced the issuance of new sanctions targeting individuals, companies, and financial institutions that finance or facilitate trade with North Korea, in addition to tightening trade restrictions. The Executive Order approves broad limitations on any foreign financial institution that knowingly conducts “significant” transactions involving North Korea. This includes transactions that “originate from, are destined for, or pass through a foreign bank account that has been determined by the Secretary of the Treasury to be owned or controlled by a North Korean person, or to have been used to transfer funds in which any North Korean person has an interest.” These funds “are blocked and may not be transferred, paid, exported, withdrawn, or otherwise dealt in.” The restrictions also prohibit dealing with persons involved in North Korea’s “construction, energy, financial services, fishing, information technology, manufacturing, medical, mining, textiles, or transportation industries,” and further authorizes the Secretary of the Treasury to restrict U.S.-based correspondent and payable-through accounts.
These sanctions are in addition to those previously passed by President Trump in August. (See previous InfoBytes coverage here.) Separately, as previously covered in InfoBytes, last month the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) imposed sanctions against certain Chinese and Russian entities and individuals, among others, for allegedly aiding North Korea’s efforts to develop weapons of mass destruction.
In response to President Trump’s latest sanctions, OFAC released updates to its FAQs concerning the additional sanctions. OFAC also issued General License 10 concerning the authorization restrictions to certain vessels and aircraft, and General License 3-A, which addresses permitted “normal service charges.”
President Trump Issues Executive Order Extending OFAC Review Period of Sudanese Policies and Actions
On July 11, President Trump announced an extension to the review period established by Executive Order 13761 (EO). EO 13761, issued by President Barack Obama, provided additional time for OFAC to review the policies and actions of Sudan to allow the opportunity to revoke certain sanctions based on positive findings regarding the Sudanese government’s actions. President Trump’s new EO extends the review period to October 12, 2017. For additional information regarding EO 13761, please see OFAC’s Frequently Asked Questions.
On May 11, the Trump Administration issued an Executive Order, directing federal agencies to increase their efforts to mitigate cyber risks. The order, entitled “Strengthening the Cybersecurity of Federal Networks and Critical Infrastructure,” mandates that agencies follow the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s Framework for Improving Critical Infrastructure Cybersecurity to manage cybersecurity risk. Among other things, the EO tasks agency heads with submitting a risk management report to the Department of Homeland Security and the OMB within 90 days. In addition, the order also directs defense agencies, the office of the Attorney General and the FBI, to provide the White House with recommendations on how to improve cybersecurity standards among critical infrastructure industries. Notably, the EO includes the financial services industry in its list of critical infrastructure industries. The report is due in 180 days.
White House Calls for “Regulatory Reform Task Forces”; OMB Sends Guidance Memorandum to Heads of Departments and Agencies
On February 24, President Trump signed an Executive Order directing the “head of each agency” to establish a “Regulatory Reform Task Force,” led by a designated “Regulatory Reform Officer,” who is responsible for reviewing existing regulations and making “recommendations to the agency head regarding their repeal, replacement, or modification.” Specifically, the Regulatory Reform Task Forces are charged with identifying regulations that: (i) “eliminate jobs, or inhibit job creation”; (ii) are outdated, unnecessary, or ineffective; (iii) “impose costs that exceed benefits”; (iv) create a “serious inconsistency or otherwise interfere with regulatory reform initiatives and policies”; (v) are inconsistent with OMB’s “Information Quality Guidelines”; or (vi) implement Executive Orders or Presidential directives that have been repealed or substantially modified.
Among other things, the Order instructs the OMB Director to issue guidance outlining requirements for the incorporation of regulatory reform “performance indicators” into agencies’ annual performance plans and potentially “address[ing] how agencies not otherwise covered under this subsection should be held accountable for compliance with this order. The Order requires that the task forces solicit input from “entities significantly affected by Federal regulations, including state, local, and tribal governments, small businesses, consumers, non-governmental organizations, and trade associations,” and submit a report to the agency head within 90 days.
Thereafter, on February 28, recently-confirmed Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Mick Mulvaney released a memorandum and attachment for the heads of all offices in the Executive Office of the President (EOP) and Executive agencies, which summarizes the major elements of the legislative clearance function that the OMB, working with other offices, carries out on behalf of the President. The memorandum (OMB Circular No. A-19) details the requirements and procedures for legislative coordination and clearance, while the attachment summarizes the major elements and the essential purposes of the clearance process.
Among other things, the memorandum recommends that, in supporting the “President’s Program,” agencies within the Administration should: (i) submit to Congress legislative proposals needed to carry out the President’s Program; (ii) convey the Administration’s views on legislation that Congress has under consideration; and (iii) recommend approval or disapproval of bills passed by Congress. According to the memorandum, the primary goals of the clearance process are twofold: (i) to ensure that an agencies’ legislative communications with Congress are consistent with the President’s policies and objectives; and (ii) to allow for the Administration to “speak with one voice” regarding legislation.
On February 2, the OMB Acting Administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) released a memorandum providing interim guidance for implementing President Trump’s January 30 Executive Order entitled “Reducing Regulation and Controlling Regulatory Costs.” Among other things, the memorandum clarifies that the January 30 Order—which was covered previously by InfoBytes here—(i) does not apply to agencies defined as an “independent regulatory agency” by 44 U.S.C. § 3502(5), which include the CFPB; (ii) applies only to significant regulatory actions that have an annual effect on the economy of at least $100 million or result in other material effects as defined in Executive Order 12,866; and (iii) applies only to significant regulatory actions issued between noon on January 20 and September 30, 2017.
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