Skip to main content
Menu Icon Menu Icon
Close

InfoBytes Blog

Financial Services Law Insights and Observations

Filter

Subscribe to our InfoBytes Blog weekly newsletter and other publications for news affecting the financial services industry.

  • OFAC targets Venezuelan oil sector sanctions evasion network

    Financial Crimes

    On January 19, the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) announced sanctions pursuant to Executive Order 13850 against three individuals, fourteen entities, and six vessels for allegedly engaging in activities tied to a Mexico-based network involved in the illicit sale of hundreds of millions of dollars of Venezuelan oil. The action builds on OFAC’s June 2020 sanctions against three individuals and eight foreign entities for allegedly engaging in activities in or associated with a network attempting to evade U.S. sanctions on Venezuela’s oil sector in order to benefit “the illegitimate Maduro regime” and Venezuela’s state-owned oil company, Petroleos de Venezuela, S.A. (covered by InfoBytes here). As a result, all property and interests in property belonging to the identified individuals and entities subject to U.S. jurisdiction are blocked, and “any entities that are owned, directly or indirectly, 50 percent or more by the designated entities, are also blocked.” U.S. persons are generally prohibited from dealing with any property or interests in property of blocked or designated persons.

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

    Share page with AddThis
  • OFAC sanctions Iranian Ministry of Petroleum and others for IRGC-QF support

    Financial Crimes

    On October 26, the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) designated the Iranian Ministry of Petroleum and two oil companies, as well as multiple entities and individuals, including front companies, subsidiaries, and senior executives, for allegedly providing financial support to Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Qods Force (IRGC-QF), pursuant to Executive Order 13224. Additionally, OFAC designated four persons involved in the sale of Iranian gasoline to “the illegitimate Maduro regime in Venezuela.” As a result, all property and interests in property belonging to the identified individuals subject to U.S. jurisdiction are blocked, and “any entities that are owned, directly or indirectly, 50 percent or more by such persons, are also blocked.” U.S. persons are generally prohibited from dealing with any property or interests in property of blocked or designated persons, and OFAC warned foreign financial institutions that if they knowingly facilitate significant transactions for the designated persons they “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.”

    Concurrently, OFAC issued amended General License 8A, “Authorizing Certain Humanitarian Trade Transactions Involving the Central Bank of Iran or the National Iranian Oil Company,” which replaces and supersedes GL 8 and allows certain humanitarian trade transactions involving one of the designated oil entities.

    Financial Crimes OFAC Department of Treasury Of Interest to Non-US Persons Sanctions Iran Venezuela OFAC Designations

    Share page with AddThis
  • OFAC sanctions network for supporting Maduro regime, blocks two vessels

    Financial Crimes

    On June 18, the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) announced sanctions against three individuals and eight foreign entities for allegedly engaging in activities in or associated with a network attempting to evade U.S. sanctions on Venezuela’s oil sector. Two vessels owned by two of the designated entities were also identified as blocked property pursuant to Executive Order 13850. OFAC noted that the identified persons participated in a scheme involving involved Venezuela’s state-owned oil company, Petroleos de Venezuela, S.A. (PdVSA), in order to benefit “the illegitimate regime of President Maduro.” Both PdVSA and Maduro were previously designated by OFAC (covered by InfoBytes here and here), and OFAC warned that persons who facilitate activity with designated persons “risk losing access to the U.S. financial system.” As a result, all property and interests in property belonging to the identified individuals and entities subject to U.S. jurisdiction are blocked, and “any entities that are owned, directly or indirectly, 50 percent or more by the designated entities, are also blocked.” U.S. persons are generally prohibited from dealing with any property or interests in property of blocked or designated persons.

    Financial Crimes OFAC Department of Treasury Sanctions Venezuela Of Interest to Non-US Persons

    Share page with AddThis
  • OFAC sanctions oil companies for supporting Maduro regime, blocks four vessels

    Financial Crimes

    On June 2, the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) sanctioned four companies for operating in the oil sector of the Venezuelan economy (which provides “financial resources to the illegitimate regime of President Maduro”) and identified four vessels as blocked property, pursuant to Executive Order 13850. As a result, all property and interests in property belonging to the identified entities subject to U.S. jurisdiction are blocked, and “any entities that are owned, directly or indirectly, 50 percent or more by the designated entities are also blocked.” U.S. persons are generally prohibited from dealing with any property or interests in property of blocked or designated persons.

    Financial Crimes OFAC Sanctions Venezuela Of Interest to Non-US Persons

    Share page with AddThis
  • DOJ unveils charges against Maduro, Venezuelan government officials

    Financial Crimes

    On March 26, the DOJ announced criminal charges against numerous current and former Venezuelan government officials, including “Former President” Nicolás Maduro Moros and two Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (FARC) leaders. The charges include allegedly engaging in drug trafficking, laundering drug proceeds using Florida real estate and luxury goods, corruption, and bribery. According to an unsealed four-count superseding indictment filed in the Southern District of New York, Maduro, along with five other high-ranking officials, participated in a “narco-terrorism conspiracy,” conspired to import large-scale cocaine shipments into the U.S., and used—or conspired to use—“machine guns and destructive devices” to further the narco-terrorism conspiracies. The charges also allege that Maduro and the officials negotiated and facilitated FARC-produced cocaine shipments, coordinated “foreign affairs with Honduras and other countries to facilitate large-scale drug trafficking,” and solicited assistance from FARC leadership with respect to militia training.

    A separate indictment unsealed in the District of Columbia charges the current Venezuelan Minister of Defense with conspiracy to distribute cocaine on a U.S.-registered aircraft. That individual was previously sanctioned in 2018 by the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC). (Covered by InfoBytes here.)

    A criminal complaint was also filed in the Southern District of Florida charging the current Chief Justice of the Venezuelan Supreme Court with accepting “tens of millions of dollars and bribes to illegally fix dozens of civil and criminal cases,” including a case in which the defendant authorized the dismissal of charges brought against a Venezuelan who was “charged in a multibillion-dollar fraud scheme against the Venezuelan state-owned oil company.” According to the complaint, the defendant laundered the proceeds through U.S. bank accounts, and spent approximately $3 million in South Florida on a private aircraft and luxury goods.

    Another unsealed indictment in the Southern District of New York charges three additional Venezuelans with evading OFAC sanctions by working “with U.S. persons and U.S.-based entities to provide private flight services for the benefit of Maduro’s 2018 presidential campaign.”

    Additional separate indictments accuse various former Venezuelan officials of drug trafficking and military aircraft smuggling. In addition, several individuals were charged with FCPA violations, including: (i) two individuals for allegedly receiving bribes to award business to U.S.-based companies; and (ii) several individuals for allegedly participating in an international money laundering scheme and conspiring to solicit Petróleos de Venezuela, S.A. (PDVSA) vendors “for bribes and kickbacks in exchange for providing assistance to those vendors in connection with their PDVSA business.” According to the DOJ’s press release, the scheme involved “bribes paid by the owners of U.S.-based companies to Venezuelan government officials to corruptly secure energy contracts and payment priority on outstanding invoices.”

    Financial Crimes DOJ Indictment Of Interest to Non-US Persons Venezuela Petroleos de Venezuela Anti-Money Laundering Bribery FCPA OFAC Sanctions Courts

    Share page with AddThis
  • OFAC sanctions additional Russian oil brokerage firm for doing business with Venezuela

    Financial Crimes

    On March 12, the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) announced sanctions pursuant to Executive Order (E.O.) 13850 against a Russian oil brokerage firm for operating in the oil sector of the Venezuelan economy. According to OFAC, following the February 18 designation of a Swiss-incorporated, Russian-controlled oil brokerage and its board chairman and president (covered by InfoBytes here), cargoes of Venezuelan oil allocated to the designated company were charged to the newly sanctioned brokerage firm in order to evade U.S. sanctions. In connection with the designation, OFAC issued Venezuela General License 36A, which authorizes certain transactions and activities otherwise prohibited under E.O.s 13850 and 13857 that are required in order to wind down business with the company. Concurrently, OFAC issued amended FAQ 817 and FAQ 818 to address the significance of OFAC’s designation of the company, and whether there is a wind-down period. OFAC reiterated that “all property and interests in property of [the brokerage firm] that are in the United States or in the possession or control of U.S. persons, and of any entities that are owned, directly or indirectly, 50 percent or more by the designated individual and entity, are blocked and must be reported to OFAC.”

    Financial Crimes Department of Treasury OFAC Of Interest to Non-US Persons Sanctions Venezuela Russia

    Share page with AddThis
  • Treasury sanctions Russian company for doing business with Venezuela

    Financial Crimes

    On February 18, the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) announced sanctions pursuant to Executive Order (E.O.) 13850, as amended, against a Swiss-incorporated, Russian-controlled oil brokerage and its board chairman and president for operating in the oil sector of the Venezuelan economy. According to the press release, the company assisted Venezuela state-owned Petroleos de Venezuela, S.A., in brokering, selling, and transporting Venezuelan petroleum products.

    In connection with the designations, OFAC issued Venezuela General License (GL) 36, titled “Authorizing Certain Activities Necessary to the Wind Down of Transactions Involving [company].” GL 36, which expires on May 20, authorizes certain transactions and activities otherwise prohibited under E.O.s 13850 and 13857 that are required in order to wind down business with the company. Concurrently, OFAC issued a new Venezuela-related frequently asked question regarding GL 36, addressing the significance of OFAC’s designation of the company, and whether the E.O. 13850 blocking sanctions on the company apply to its corporate parent and affiliates. In its press release, OFAC added that “all property and interests in property of [the company] and [its president] that are in the United States or in the possession or control of U.S. persons, and of any entities that are owned, directly or indirectly, 50 percent or more by the designated individual and entity, are blocked and must be reported to OFAC.”

    Financial Crimes Venezuela Petroleos de Venezuela Department of Treasury OFAC Combating the Financing of Terrorism Of Interest to Non-US Persons Sanctions

    Share page with AddThis
  • OFAC identifies Venezuelan oil tankers as blocked property

    Financial Crimes

    On December 3, the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) announced additions to the Specially Designated Nationals List (SDN List) pursuant to Executive Order 13884, which blocks the property of the Venezuelan government. OFAC identified six tankers of Venezuela’s state-owned oil company as property of the Venezuelan Government and therefore as blocked property, after all the vessels recently transported petroleum to Cuba. A seventh tanker also was identified as a blocked property, pursuant to Executive Order 13850 for operating in the oil sector of the Venezuelan economy, after delivering Venezuelan petroleum to Cuba. According to the press release, the vessel’s name had been changed to circumvent sanctions as it moved Venezuelan oil to Cuba. The SDN List was updated to link the new name of the vessel to its former name. OFAC reiterated that its “regulations generally prohibit all transactions by U.S. persons or within (or transiting) the United States that involve any property or interests in property of blocked or designated persons.”

    Financial Crimes OFAC Of Interest to Non-US Persons Department of Treasury Venezuela Sanctions Petroleos de Venezuela

    Share page with AddThis
  • OFAC sanctions additional entities and vessels operating in Venezuela’s oil sector

    Financial Crimes

    On September 24, the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) announced sanctions pursuant to Executive Order 13850 against four entities for their alleged involvement in the transportation of oil from Venezuela to Cuba. According to OFAC, the entities’ actions offer support to the Maduro regime and “enable its repressive security and intelligence apparatus.” In addition, OFAC identified four vessels as blocked property owned by the identified entities. As a result of the sanctions, “all property and interests in property of these entities, and of any entities that are owned, directly or indirectly, 50 percent or more by the designated entities, that are in the United States or in the possession or control of U.S. persons are blocked and must be reported to OFAC.” OFAC notes that its regulations “generally prohibit” U.S. persons from participating in transactions with blocked or designated persons.

    Additionally, the announcement notes that OFAC is delisting two entities in recognition of their actions to ensure that their vessels are not complicit in supporting the Maduro regime. As a result of the delisting, all property and interest of the entities are now unblocked and lawful transactions involving U.S. persons are no longer prohibited.

    Since OFAC’s designation of Venezuela’s state-owned oil company last January, the department has sanctioned several entities and individuals connected to Venezuela’s oil sector. Continuing InfoBytes coverage on these actions can be found here.

    Financial Crimes Department of Treasury OFAC Sanctions Venezuela Of Interest to Non-US Persons

    Share page with AddThis
  • OFAC sanctions Cuban oil company for facilitating Maduro regime

    Financial Crimes

    On July 3, the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) announced sanctions against Cuban state-run oil import and export company for continuing to provide support to the Maduro regime by the importation of oil from Venezuela. The sanctions are pursuant to Executive Order 13850. OFAC alleges that the state-run company has been the recipient of oil from Venezuela and has expanded its operations to include non-traditionally traded oil products. As a result of the sanctions, “all property and interests in property of these individuals, and of any entities that are owned, directly or indirectly, 50 percent or more by such individuals, that are in the United States or in the possession or control of U.S. persons are blocked and must be reported to OFAC.” OFAC notes that its regulations “generally prohibit” U.S. persons from participating in transactions with these individuals and entities.

    Additionally, the announcement notes that OFAC is delisting an oil tanking company in recognition of the company’s actions to ensure that its vessels are not complicit in supporting the Maduro regime. As a result of the delisting, all property and interest of the company is now unblocked and lawful transactions involving U.S. persons are no longer prohibited.

    Financial Crimes Department of Treasury Of Interest to Non-US Persons OFAC Executive Order Sanctions Venezuela Cuba

    Share page with AddThis

Pages