On October 24, 2017, the US Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (“OFAC”) issued a general license continuing the extension of certain sanctions relief toward Belarus. The general license, which is the fourth in a series of identical licenses, authorizes US persons to engage in certain transactions with nine Belarus-based entities that have previously been designated Specially Designated Nationals (“SDNs”), as well as entities in which the nine entities have a 50% or greater ownership interest. The general license authorizes such transactions for a renewable period of six months. The first general license in this series was issued on October 30, 2015, following President Lukashenko’s decision to welcome election monitors and free certain political prisoners (see our advisory here).

The nine entities include:

  • Belarusian Oil Trade House
  • Belneftekhim
  • Belneftekhim USA, Inc.
  • Belshina OAO
  • Grodno Azot OAO
  • Grodno Khimvolokno OAO
  • Lakokraska OAO
  • Naftan OAO
  • Polotsk Steklovolokno OAO

As with the earlier versions, the general license permits all transactions involving these entities otherwise prohibited by Executive Order (“EO”) 13405 (the authority under which the entities were designated), including (i) the provision of funds, goods, or services to the entities, (ii) the receipt of funds, goods or services from the entities, and (iii) dealings in securities that are registered in the name of, held for the benefit of, or issued by the entities. Transactions ordinarily incident to a licensed transaction are also authorized. Notably, the property of the above entities blocked pursuant to EO 13405 prior to October 30, 2015 remains blocked.

US persons engaging in a transaction or series of transactions in excess of $50,000 must file a report with the US Department of State’s Office of Eastern European Affairs. The report must include (1) an estimated or actual dollar value of the transaction, (2) the parties involved, (3) the type and scope of activities conducted, and (4) the dates or duration of the activities.

The general license will expire on April 30, 2018, unless extended or revoked. Therefore, all aspects of a transaction, including payment, must be concluded by that date.