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On February 25, the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) issued Afghanistan General License (GL) 20, Authorizing Transactions Involving Afghanistan or Governing Institutions in Afghanistan, which authorizes, to the extent required, all transactions involving Afghanistan and its governing institutions that would otherwise be prohibited by U.S. sanctions, excluding financial transfers to certain organizations and any blocked individual who is in a leadership role of a governing institution in Afghanistan, other than for the purpose of effecting the payment of taxes, fees, or import duties, or the purchase or receipt of permits, licenses, or public utility services, provided that such payments do not relate to luxury items or services, which do not support basic human needs. According to OFAC, this action is part of “the Biden Administration’s efforts to help address the substantial challenges facing Afghanistan’s economy.” OFAC also published a new Afghanistan-related Frequently Asked Question (FAQ) and amended several existing FAQs.
On February 11, President Biden issued an Executive Order (E.O.) on Protecting Certain Property of Da Afghanistan Bank [DAB] for the Benefit of the People of Afghanistan. The E.O. generally blocks “[a]ll property and interests in property of DAB that are held, as of the date of this order, in the United States by any United States financial institution, including the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.” The E.O. establishes that “[a]ny transaction that evades or avoids, has the purpose of evading or avoiding, causes a violation of, or attempts to violate any of the prohibitions set forth in this order is prohibited.” Among other things, the order's prohibitions “apply except to the extent provided by statutes, or in regulations, orders, directives, or licenses that may be issued pursuant to this order, and notwithstanding any contract entered into or any license or permit granted before the date of this order.” The E.O. also prohibits any transactions by U.S. persons—or within the U.S—that evade or avoid, have the purpose of evading or avoiding, cause a violation of, or attempt to violate the provisions set forth in the order, as well as any conspiracy to violate any of these prohibitions. Additionally, the Secretary of the Treasury—after consulting with heads of other executive departments as deemed appropriate—is authorized to take actions, including promulgating rules and regulations, to carry out the purposes of the E.O.
On February 2, the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) published seven new Counter Terrorism-related frequently asked questions (FAQs). Among other things, the FAQs note that: (i) cash shipments to Afghanistan may be authorized under General Licenses (GL) 14, GL 18, or GL 19, provided that certain circumstances are met; (ii) nongovernmental organizations and international organizations may provide support to municipal water systems; (iii) both U.S. and non-U.S. companies may ship food to Afghanistan; and (vi) banks may process financial transfers and other transactions associated with food shipments to Afghanistan.
On December 22, the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) issued three general licenses (GLs) to expand existing authorizations and further support humanitarian assistance in Afghanistan. The GLs authorize transactions and activities involving the Taliban or the Haqqani Network that would otherwise be prohibited by the Global Terrorism Sanctions Regulations, the Foreign Terrorist Organizations Sanctions Regulations, or amended Executive Order 13224. Subject to certain conditions, General License 17 authorizes transactions “that are for the conduct of the official business of the United States Government by employees, grantees, or contractors thereof”; General License 18 authorizes transactions and activities that are for the conduct of the official business of specified international organizations and other international entities by employees, grantees, or contractors; and General License 19 authorizes transactions and activities that are ordinarily incident and necessary to specific nongovernmental organizations’ activities, such as humanitarian projects to meet basic human needs and activities that support rule of law, citizen participation, government accountability and transparency. Notably, the GLs do not authorize (i) financial transfers to identified blocked persons (except for when executing the payment of certain taxes, fees, or import duties, or for the purchase or receipt of permits, licenses, or public utility services); or (ii) “[a]ny debit to an account on the books of a U.S. financial institution of any blocked person” described within the GLs.
In addition to the GLs, OFAC published several responses to frequently asked questions to provide clarity on the scope of GLs and U.S. sanctions on the Taliban and the Haqqani Network (see FAQs 928, 929, 931, 950, 951, 952, 953, 954, and 955). OFAC also issued a humanitarian fact sheet providing an overview of the newest authorizations and latest guidance regarding the flow of humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan.
On December 10, the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) issued Counter Terrorism General License 16 – Authorizing Noncommercial, Personal Remittances to Afghanistan. Under GL 16, “all transactions involving the Taliban or the Haqqani Network, or any entity in which the Taliban or the Haqqani Network owns, directly or indirectly, individually or in the aggregate, a 50 percent or greater interest,” that would otherwise be prohibited by the Global Terrorism Sanctions Regulations, the Foreign Terrorist Organizations Sanctions Regulations, or amended Executive Order 13224, that are “ordinarily incident and necessary to the transfer of noncommercial, personal remittances to Afghanistan, including through Afghan depository institutions, are authorized.” GL 16 does not, however, authorize (i) financial transfers to identified blocked persons (except for when executing the payment of certain taxes, fees, or other duties); (ii) “[a]ny debit to an account on the books of a U.S. financial institution of any blocked person” described within GL 16; or (iii) any transactions or activities otherwise prohibited by the aforementioned sanctions regulations and executive order. Additionally, OFAC published related amended FAQ 931 and new FAQ 949.
On September 24, the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) issued two general licenses (GL) to support the ongoing flow of humanitarian efforts and other activities that support basic human needs in Afghanistan. GL 14, “Authorizing Humanitarian Activities in Afghanistan,” authorizes the U.S. government, nongovernmental organizations, and certain international organizations and entities, as well as those acting on their behalf, to engage in the provision of humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan or other activities that support basic human needs in Afghanistan. GL 15, “Transactions Related to the Exportation or Reexportation of Agricultural Commodities, Medicine, Medical Devices, Replacement Parts and Components, or Software Updates in Afghanistan,” authorizes certain transactions connected to the exportation or reexportation of agricultural commodities, medicine, and medical devices, replacement parts, components, and software updates for medical devices. OFAC also published updated four FAQs related to GLs 14 and 15 (see 928, 929, 930, and 931).