The U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (“OFAC”) has published major revisions to its humanitarian authorizations and other general licenses under the North Korean Sanctions Regulations (“NKSR”), which took effect on February 16, 2024.  These regulatory changes expand the scope of authorized activity in North Korea, which should lead to fewer specific license applications for NGOs engaged in humanitarian work relating to the DPRK.  In this regard, OFAC has narrowed the restriction on authorized activity arising from “partnerships” with the DPRK government.  OFAC has also established a new authorization for journalistic activities in North Korea.  These revisions to the NKSR, along with some improved guidance from OFAC regarding banks’ due diligence expectations, may result in less de-risking by financial institutions when it comes to customer activity involving North Korea.

At the same time, there remain important limitations and conditions to these authorizations that must be observed.  Moreover, OFAC has implemented a new advance reporting requirement if one intends to use the revised humanitarian general license, which may increase the compliance burden on NGOs as well as provide the State Department an opportunity to object to the use of the general license on a case-by-case basis. Continue Reading OFAC Issues Significantly Revised NGO Authorizations for North Korea

Further to our post about General License (GL) No. 23, on February 21, 2023, the US Department of the Treasury, Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), issued Guidance on Authorized Transactions Related to Earthquake Relief Efforts in Syria (the Guidance).  Although it does not appear that OFAC has published the Guidance as part of formal Frequently Asked Questions, affected US persons and non-US persons who are relying on GL 23 should review the Guidance, which provides additional OFAC interpretations about the scope of GL 23 until it is scheduled to expire on August 8, 2023.  More specifically, the Guidance covers topics such as:

(1) donating money and raising funds for earthquake relief efforts in Syria;

(2) sending money to the people of Syria;

(3) sending any goods or providing any services to Syria;

(4) processing financial transactions related to earthquake relief in Syria;

(5) earthquake relief activity or efforts involving the Government of Syria (GOS);

(6) non-governmental organizations providing aid to Syria;

(7) activity by foreign governments in Syria; and

(8) application of US secondary sanctions under the Caesar Syria Civilian Protection Act of 2019.Continue Reading Additional OFAC Guidance and BIS Licensing Policy Statement on Earthquake Relief for Syria

On February 15, 2023, HM Treasury’s Office of Financial Sanctions Implementation (“OFSI”) issued General Licence INT/2023/2711256 (“GL”) in relation to humanitarian activity associated with earthquake relief efforts in Syria and Turkey.  OFSI’s action follows a similar move by OFAC last week, which is discussed in our blog post (here).  On the same day, the Export Control Joint Unit (“ECJU”) also issued General Trade Licence Syria Sanctions – Earthquake Relief Efforts in Syria (“GTL”), to further facilitate humanitarian assistance in relation to the earthquake relief efforts. Continue Reading OFSI and ECJU Issue General Licences for Earthquake Relief in Syria

Recognizing the importance of humanitarian aid to support rescue and recovery efforts in Syria, the US Department of the Treasury, Office of Foreign Assets Control (“OFAC”) issued a new General License on February 9, 2023 focused on the Syrian earthquake.  This new General License supplements existing OFAC regulations and authorizations supporting humanitarian relief in Syria.Continue Reading OFAC Issues General License for Earthquake Relief in Syria