Cleary International Trade and Sanctions Watch

As we have discussed in prior posts, the Trump Administration has threatened since January 2019 to permit claims under Title III of the Helms-Burton Act for “trafficking” in property claimed by Americans and expropriated by Cuba to proceed. Title III has been suspended since the Helms-Burton Act was enacted in 1996. On April 17, 2019, the Trump Administration announced that it will no longer maintain the suspension of Title III. This means that as of…
On April 17, 2019, the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) announced that the Central Bank of Venezuela has been designated as a specially designated national (SDN) under Executive Order 13850, banning all transactions within U.S. jurisdiction in which it has an interest. As a result, any party who materially assists, sponsors, or provides financial, material, or technological support for, or goods or services to or in support of, the…
On March 27, 2019, journalists affiliated with Reuters reported that the Kunlun Group (“Kunlun”), a China-based tech firm, was preparing to sell its wholly owned subsidiary, Grindr, after the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (“CFIUS”) informed the group that Kunlun’s continued ownership of Grindr constituted a national security risk.  This forced divestiture of Grindr is a pointed reminder that CFIUS remains focused on protecting the sensitive personal data of U.S. citizens, has…
On January 31, 2019, France, Germany and the UK (the “E3”) announced the creation of the Instrument in Support of Trade Exchanges (“INSTEX”), a special purpose vehicle intended to facilitate legitimate trade between European companies and Iran, registered in France.  This initiative is supported by the European Union. The vehicle was created in the wake of the U.S.’ withdrawal in 2018 from the Iran nuclear deal (the  Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (“JCPOA”)), in addition…
On March 8, 2019, the Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) further amended the general licenses governing secondary trading of pre-sanctions Government of Venezuela (GoV) debt and Petróleos de Venezuela, S.A. (PdVSA) debt and equity by issuing new General Licenses (GL) 3D and 9C.  In both, OFAC extended the authorization for all transactions and activities ordinarily incident and necessary to winding down financial contracts or other agreements entered into before…
On February 13, 2019, a bipartisan group of senators introduced a draft bill that, if adopted, would significantly strengthen sanctions relating to the Russian Federation.  Introduced as the “Defending American Security from Kremlin Aggression Act of 2019” (“DASKA”), the wide-ranging bill covers a number of subjects, in particular a range of new cybersecurity provisions.  This note focuses on the sanctions provisions, which would:…
The Office of Foreign Assets Control of the U.S. Treasury Department recently issued a series of instructive press releases regarding enforcement actions taken against several companies.  The decision to publicize these enforcement actions could signal a more activist and expansionist approach to sanctions enforcement matters and may evidence a broadening of OFAC’s enforcement priorities as the long run of enforcement against financial institutions begins to wind down.  The actions demonstrate a focus on acquisition due…
As we have discussed in prior posts, the Trump Administration continues to threaten to permit claims under Title III of the Helms-Burton Act for “trafficking” in property claimed by Americans and expropriated by Cuba to proceed, but the Administration also continues to extend the suspension of Title III for short periods.  Most recently, on April 3, 2019, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo extended the suspension of actions under Title III of the Helms-Burton Act…
After brisk movement through the EU legislative process, the proposed EU Regulation on Foreign Direct Investment Screening (the “Regulation”) was approved by the European Parliament on February 14, 2019. This development comes amidst a global sprint to strengthen and establish foreign direct investment laws, including in France, UK, Germany, and Hungary, as well as the US and China. Although individual Member States retain their authority to screen (i.e., investigate, condition, prohibit, or unwind) foreign direct…
Today the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) issued new general licenses (GL) 3C (amending GL 3B) and GL 9B (amending GL 9A) and amended previously issued FAQ 661 and FAQ 662.  The changes clarify that U.S. persons remain prohibited from purchasing or investing in listed GL 3C (GL 3C Bonds) or pre-sanctions PdVSA debt and equity (PdVSA Securities) and that OFAC’s facilitation prohibitions apply to such purchases other…