Here are five things that happened this week in the world of economic sanctions that I think you should know about.
This week’s briefing covers the weeks ending 3 and 10 September 2021.
- Reuters reported that the US Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) issued a specific license authorizing the US government (and persons such as contractors acting on behalf of the US government) to engage in humanitarian transactions involving the Taliban in Afghanistan that would otherwise be prohibited under OFAC’s terrorism-related sanctions regulations. (More on this below.)
- In related news, a group of 46 organizations sent a letter to the White House, the Treasury Department, the State Department, and the US Ambassador to the United Nations urging the Biden administration to complete its ongoing sanctions policy review in order to enable more humanitarian-related transactions. (A copy of the letter is available here.) The administration expects to complete the review sometime this fall, according to reports.
- OFAC named four members of Iran’s intelligence services as Specially Designated Nationals (SDNs) under Executive Order 13553. According to a Treasury Department news release, the individuals plotted to kidnap a New York-based Iranian dissident and were “tasked with targeting Iranian dissidents in the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, and the United Arab Emirates.”
- The UK government announced new sanctions on Myanmar tycoon U Tay Za and the Htoo Group of Companies for their close ties to the country’s military junta. Tay Za and the Htoo Group were previously sanctioned by OFAC and other authorities and were also linked to the Myanmar military’s campaign against the Rohingya people in 2017.
- OFAC announced a USD 189,483 settlement with a US-based technology company for violations of the Iranian Transactions and Sanctions Regulations (ITSR). According to the OFAC settlement notice, the company provided its products to distributors with reason to know the products would be re-sold to customers in Iran, including an entity on the OFAC SDN List.
The OFAC specific license reported on by Reuters was issued to the State Department in late August and authorizes the US government and certain other persons to engage in “all transactions necessary and ordinarily incident to the provision of humanitarian assistance in Afghanistan that would otherwise be prohibited under” OFAC’s terrorism-related sanctions regulations through March 2022. For more on Taliban-related sanctions impacting Afghanistan, check out this “Sanctions Rapid Response Briefing Paper” by the one and only Justine Walker issued by the International Sanctions Compliance Task Force — Humanitarian Workstream of the Association of Certified Anti-Money Laundering Specialists (ACAMS).
For the export control wonks out there: here is Kevin Wolf’s must-read testimony to the US-China Economic and Security Review Commission with his take on the current direction of US export control policy. “[U]nilateral controls are quick and responsive, but are usually eventually counterproductive and ineffective. Multilateral controls under the current system are eventually effective,” but they require more work, Wolf stated. Hear, hear.
I’m looking forward to joining Rod Francis, Joanne Wong, and Edgar Ma for a panel on “Financial Crime Compliance — Managing Regulator Relationships” as part of FTI Consulting’s Continuing Professional Development Webinar Series, on Thursday, 16 September, at 4:30 to 5:30 p.m. Hong Kong time. Sign up here!