Here are five things that happened this week in the world of economic sanctions that I think you should know about.
- The Biden administration unveiled a range of sanctions and export control measures in response to Russia’s suspected poisoning of opposition figure Alexei Navalny and his subsequent arrest and imprisonment. The US Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) and the State Department named several Russian officials and entities as Specially Designated Nationals (SDNs). The US Commerce Department’s Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) added several entities to the Entity List. As explained in a fact sheet, the State Department also announced an expansion of restrictions on Russia introduced in 2018 under the Chemical and Biological Weapons Control and Warfare Elimination Act of 1991 and identified six entities as operating in the Russian Defense and Intelligence Sectors — persons who engage in significant transactions with them could face secondary sanctions under Section 231 of the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA).
- The EU announced sanctions on four Russian officials under the recently created EU Global Human Rights Sanctions Regime. According to an EU Council news release, the officials were targeted for “their roles in the arbitrary arrest, prosecution and sentencing of Alexei Navalny, as well as the repression of peaceful protests in connection with his unlawful treatment.”
- BIS amended the Export Administration Regulations (EAR) to implement new export controls on Myanmar that were announced following the country’s military coup on 1 February 2021. Meanwhile, BIS added four entities in Myanmar to the Entity List, including Myanmar Economic Corporation (MEC) and Myanmar Economic Holdings Limited (MEHL).
- OFAC named two prominent members of Ansar Allah in Yemen (a.k.a. the Houthi movement) as SDNs under EO 13611. The designations come about two weeks after OFAC removed the Specially Designated Global Terrorist designation put on Ansar Allah in the waning days of the Trump Administration.
- OFAC named a Mexican national as a Specially Designated Narcotics Trafficker under the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act for drug smuggling and money laundering on behalf of a Mexican drug cartel responsible for importing fentanyl and other substances into the United States.
Myanmar’s MEC and MEHL, the country’s premier military controlled conglomerates, were conspicuously not sanctioned by OFAC following last month’s coup. Instead OFAC named three lesser known subsidiaries as SDNs under the newly issued Executive Order 14014. Following those designations, the Myanmar military continued its violent crackdown on protesters, leading OFAC to sanction two additional military officers. It lacks the oomph of the SDN List, but BIS’s addition of MEC and MEHL to the Entity List could signal the Biden administration’s willingness to ratchet up sanctions in response to developments on the ground, with more to come.
What about EU sanctions? According to Reuters, the EU is reportedly preparing a Myanmar sanctions package that could include sanctions on MEC and MEHL, among others, later this month. For their part, Myanmar’s new leaders are reportedly saying they won’t be deterred by outside economic pressure.
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(The views expressed are my own and do not constitute legal advice. Photo from Vladislav Reshetnyak.)