Today the President issued a new Executive Order targeting Venezuela, which is noteworthy in three respects:
1) It shows the US government wants to continue to increase the pressure on the Maduro regime through sanctions, but is continuing to act incrementally rather than imposing more sweeping restrictions that had been rumored in the past to be under consideration, such as broader oil sector sanctions.
2) It may have a significant impact on any companies dealing in the Venezuelan gold sector or dealing in gold sourced from Venezuela. Press reports indicate that a significant portion of Venezuelan gold is exported to refiners in Turkey. OFAC issued Frequently Asked Questions to provide additional guidance to those operating in these areas.
3) It authorizes the Treasury and State Departments to designate additional sectors of the Venezuelan economy for future sanctions, an authority similar to that which exists under the current Russia sanctions program.
No sanctions designations of individuals or entities were announced concurrent with the publication of this Executive Order, so for the time being this remains simply a framework for potential future sanctions.