On December 2, 2021, the United States, the EU, the UK, and Canada announced a new round of coordinated sanctions in response to their concerns regarding the Belarusian government’s continued undermining of democracy, its violations of human rights, and its alleged orchestration of irregular migration into the EU. The latest sanctions include blocking sanctions and asset freezes, as well as new restrictions on US persons dealing in Belarusian sovereign debt.

For more information on earlier US, UK, and Canadian sanctions related to Belarus, see our August 13, 2021, blog post and April 19, 2021, blog post.

Continue Reading Coordinated Sanctions Further Align Transatlantic Policies on Belarus

On November 15, 2021, the US Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) designated the Public Ministry of Nicaragua and nine Nicaraguan government officials as Specially Designated Nationals (SDNs) pursuant to Executive Order (EO) 13851 and the Nicaragua Human Rights and Anticorruption Act of 2018 (NHRAA). According to a Treasury Department press release, the designations respond to the Nicaraguan government’s repression of opposition politicians leading up to “sham” elections in November 2021.

Among the designated persons is a senior banking regulatory official in Nicaragua, which underscores the risk to financial institutions in particular seeking to navigate US sanctions risks while operating in Nicaragua.

Continue Reading OFAC Designates Nicaraguan Officials after “Sham Elections”

On November 12, 2021, the US Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) designated the Eritrean Defense Forces, the Eritrean People’s Front for Democracy and Justice (PFDJ), two government-linked commercial entities, the head of the Eritrean National Security Office, and a prominent political advisor as Specially Designated Nationals (SDNs) pursuant to Executive Order (EO) 14046 of September 17, 2021, in response to the ongoing military conflict and humanitarian crisis in northern Ethiopia. These are the first designations made under the EO and OFAC’s recently adopted Ethiopia-related sanctions program.

According to a Treasury Department news release, the designations target Eritrean actors that have contributed to the situation in northern Ethiopia and “undermined the stability and integrity of the Ethiopian state.”

Continue Reading US Government Targets Eritrea with Sanctions over Ethiopia Crisis

On September 21, 2021, the US Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Asset Control (OFAC) issued an updated advisory on the sanctions risks of facilitating ransomware payments.  OFAC issued a prior version of its advisory on October 1, 2020. In the months since, attacks have continued and target entities in the United States, including many in sensitive industries, generating increased concern over the scale of the problem. OFAC’s updated advisory is part of the Biden administration’s ongoing efforts to address the national security and economic risks posed by such attacks. The updated advisory emphasizes that OFAC “strongly discourages” victims from making ransom payments and reemphasizes the sanctions risks of doing so, but also seeks to provide victims with greater clarity about the steps that can be taken to reduce the likelihood of a public enforcement response if a company inadvertently makes or facilitates ransom payments that may have a sanctions nexus.

Continue Reading OFAC Issues Revised Ransomware Advisory