On June 18, 2020, the US Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) announced the addition of three individuals and eight entities to its list of Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons (SDN List), pursuant to Executive Order 13850, for “their activities in or associated with a network attempting to evade United States sanctions on Venezuela’s oil sector.”  OFAC also identified two vessels as blocked property belonging to the designated persons and issued a general license authorizing wind-down activities with certain of the designated persons, as well as an FAQ regarding the general license.  Finally, OFAC announced the delisting of two entities previously included on the SDN List for operating in the oil sector of the Venezuelan economy.

The actions are the latest in a string of recent designations targeting entities involved in the Venezuelan oil sector, which has been a particular focus for OFAC of late.  The latest actions offer a number of insights for companies doing business with Venezuela and operating in the oil and shipping industries more broadly.  We highlight three key takeaways below.


Continue Reading Three Key Takeaways from OFAC’s Latest Venezuela Sanctions Actions

On 12 March 2020, OFAC designated Switzerland-based oil broker and Rosneft subsidiary TNK Trading International SA (“TNK Trading”) as a Specially Designated National (“SDN”) pursuant to Executive Order 13850 for operating in the oil sector of the Venezuelan economy. The action follows OFAC’s February 18, 2020 designation of another Rosneft subsidiary, Rosneft Trading SA (“Rosneft

On February 18, 2020, OFAC designated Switzerland-based oil broker Rosneft Trading SA (“Rosneft Trading”), a subsidiary of Rosneft Oil Company, as a Specially Designated National (“SDN”) for “operating in the oil sector of the Venezuelan economy,” under Executive Order 13850.  The US government had been weighing possible sanctions against Rosneft entities due to their activity in Venezuela for months.  A US official stated during a briefing that Rosneft Trading handled more than half of Venezuela’s oil exports and took steps to conceal those shipments, and that this sanctions designation was “a reaction to the growing and increasingly central role of Rosneft in the affairs of Venezuela, particularly in the course of the last year.”  Illustrating the policy deliberations that appear to have preceded this designation, a US Department of Energy official stated that this action was viewed as not likely to destabilize global oil markets, which have seen recent price declines.

OFAC also sanctioned Didier Casimiro, Rosneft Trading’s Chairman and President, who a State Department press release notes “also serves as Rosneft’s Vice President for Refining, Petrochemical, Commerce and Logistics.”  It is noteworthy that the US government intentionally targeted an officer and director of the Rosneft parent entity.  Mr. Casimiro’s profile on Rosneft’s website confirms that he holds that VP position, along with membership on the board of Rosneft and a small number of shares of Rosneft.  The Rosneft web page listing other positions held by board members states that Mr. Casimiro “is Chairman of the Board of Directors at PJSC Saratov Oil Refinery, PJSC NC Rosneft – МP Nefteproduct, CJSC Rosneft-Armenia, LLC RNY, Rosneft Trading S.A., LLC «RNCommerce», LLC «RN-Refining», Chairman of the Supervisory Board at PRJSC LINIK, member of the Board of Directors at SLAVNEFT, Slavneft-YANOS PJSC, Rosneft Global Trade S.A., JSC SPIMEX, Rosneft Techno S.A., PJSOC Bashneft, LLC «RNForeign Projects», Nayara Energy Limited.”  The designation of Mr. Casimiro, if he continues to hold these senior positions within Rosneft and other organizations, could potentially add compliance complications in doing business with Rosneft or those other organizations, along with the direct and more significant impact of these sanctions actions on Rosneft Trading and Mr. Casimiro himself.


Continue Reading US Sanctions Rosneft Subsidiary and a Rosneft Director and Vice President for Venezuela Oil Trade

On August 5, President Trump issued executive order (EO) 13884 expanding sanctions in Venezuela by blocking the property of the Government of Venezuela as a whole. In connection with this step, OFAC issued 12 amended and 13 new general licenses and published interpretive guidance pertaining to the provision of humanitarian assistance and support for the Venezuelan people. According to an OFAC press release, the new EO and general licenses “allow U.S. persons to continue to provide humanitarian support to the Venezuelan people” while putting pressure on the Maduro regime.
Continue Reading New Round of Sanctions Block Government of Venezuela, Issue General Licenses

This Tuesday, March 19, the US Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) imposed sanctions on CVG Compañía General de Minería de Venezuela CA (Minerven), the Venezuelan state-run ferrous metals mining company, and its President, Adrian Antonio Perdomo Mata. The addition of Minerven and Mr. Perdomo Mata to the OFAC Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons list (SDN List) follows the imposition of the same sanctions announced against PdVSA (Petróleos de Venezuela, S.A.) on January 28, pursuant to Executive Order 13850, after the United States recognized Juan Guaidó, the head of Venezuela’s National Assembly, as the country’s interim president.

Also on Tuesday, at the White House, President Donald Trump welcomed Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, in his first official international visit since taking office in January. During the press conference, President Trump defined the crisis in Venezuela as a priority in the context of the bilateral partnership between the US and Brazil, and lauded Brazil’s leadership in supporting democracy in its neighbor. Recently, Brazil and the US have worked together to provide humanitarian assistance across the border.
Continue Reading Venezuela Sanctions and Brazil’s Leadership

Next week, the World Trade Organization (WTO) will consider Venezuela’s request for the establishment of a panel to decide whether US sanctions affecting Venezuela violate international trade law.

In December, Venezuela filed its second ever complaint at the World Trade Organization challenging US sanctions. Specifically, Venezuela claimed that the US imposed “coercive trade-restrictive measures” in an attempt to isolate Venezuela economically. These measures included “certain US laws and regulations relating to goods of Venezuelan origin, the liquidity of Venezuelan public debt, transactions in Venezuelan digital currency, and the Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons List [which] are inconsistent with the WTO’s General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) 1994 and the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS),” according to a statement by the WTO.
Continue Reading Venezuela Challenge to US Sanctions Escalates at WTO

As we have previously written, the US Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) designated the Venezuelan state-owned oil company Petróleos de Venezuela, S.A. (PdVSA) as a Specially Designated National (SDN) on January 28, 2019. This action will have a significant impact on US persons and businesses involved in any dealings

On January 28, the US Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) announced the designation of Venezuelan state-owned oil company Petróleos de Venezuela, S.A. (PdVSA) as a Specially Designated National (SDN).  The designation was made pursuant to Executive Order (EO) 13850 (Blocking Property of Additional Persons Contributing to the Situation in Venezuela).  That order initially applied only to the Venezuelan gold sector, but as part of the Treasury Department’s actions, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin determined “that persons operating in Venezuela’s oil sector are subject to sanctions pursuant to E.O. 13850,” allowing for the designation of PdVSA.

As is the case with all SDNs, all property and interests in property of PdVSA in the possession or control of a US person or within the United States must be blocked and US persons are generally prohibited from dealing with the company.  Such prohibitions also extend to entities owned 50% or greater by PdVSA.  Given the sizable role that PdVSA and its subsidiaries play in the US economy and petroleum industry, OFAC issued 8 new general licenses (GLs) with the goal of limiting potential disruption from the designation.
Continue Reading Trump Administration Designates PdVSA, Issues General Licenses

Sanctions compliance considerations have always been important for cryptocurrency companies, but several recent US government actions suggest regulators are increasingly focused on the intersection between digital currencies and economic sanctions.  This increased focus highlights the importance of sanctions compliance for blockchain-related companies, particularly for those considered to be US persons.

This intensified focus has been