As part of its continuing efforts to protect US communications networks from communications equipment and services that pose a national security risk, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) on June 17, 2021, released a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking and Notice of Inquiry (NPRM/NOI) seeking comments on its proposal to prohibit the authorization (and revoke existing authorizations) of any communications equipment on the list of equipment and services that the Commission maintains pursuant to the Secure and Trusted Communications Networks Act of 2019 (referred to as the Covered List). The NPRM/NOI also proposes to require entities participating in competitive bidding for FCC licenses to certify that its bids do not rely on financial support from any entity the FCC has designated as a national security threat to the integrity of communications networks or the communications supply chain. Continue reading →
On April 26, 2021, the UK announced a new global anti-corruption sanctions regime and has imposed sanctions on 22 people whom the UK Government has reasonable grounds to suspect have been involved in serious corruption. Under the new Global Anti-Corruption Sanctions Regulations 2021 (SI 2021/488), those designated will be subject to an asset freeze and travel ban.
U.S., UK and EU authorities continue to expand sanctions targeting the Tatmadaw, Myanmar’s armed forces, following the February 1, 2021 military coup in Myanmar (also known as Burma). Over the past month, the United States and its European allies have imposed blocking and other sanctions on (a) the two major Tatmadaw-controlled conglomerates in Myanmar that provide financing for the armed forces; (b) additional gem, pearl and timber industry companies that provide sources of funding to the coup regime; and (c) further coup regime and Tatmadaw officials.
On April 15, 2021, the U.S. Government announced broad new sanctions authorities that can be used to target Russia and implemented limitations on dealings in Russian sovereign debt. These measures were imposed pursuant to a newly issued Executive Order in response to Russia’s alleged election inference, the SolarWinds cyberattack, and Russia’s ongoing occupation of the Crimea region of Ukraine.
On 22 March 2021, the EU added 11 Burmese officials responsible for last month’s military coup in Myanmar to its sanctions list. The designations are made in response to “the illegitimate over-throwing of the democratically-elected government and the brutal repression by the junta against peaceful protesters” under Council Implementing Regulation (EU) 2021/478 and Council Decision 2021/483. (See the EU Press Release.) The U.S. government issued a statement highlighting the EU action and those of other countries and announced further sanctions designations of its own.
U.S. officials have continued to use a range of policy tools to apply pressure on the military leadership of Myanmar (also known as Burma) in response to the military coup in the country and escalating violence against peaceful protestors. These moves have continued to follow a step-by-step approach, with important export control and sanctions additions thus far in March 2021.
On March 2, 2021, the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Asset Controls (OFAC) imposed sanctions on two key militant leaders of the Iranian-backed Ansarallah, also known as the Houthis. OFAC sanctions target Mansur Al-Sa’adi, Houthi naval forces chief of staff, and Ahmad ‘Ali Ahsan al-Hamzi, commander of Houthi air force and air defense forces.
On February 18, 2021, the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) entered into a settlement of $507,375 with BitPay Inc. for violations of multiple U.S. sanctions programs. According to the settlement, BitPay allowed its platform to be used by persons in Cuba, North Korea, Iran, Sudan, Syria and the Crimea region to transact with merchants in the United States. The latest settlement is noteworthy for the involvement of a digital currency service provider and its discussion of OFAC’s expectations regarding compliance for companies in this growing financial and commercial sector.
In response to the recent military coup in Myanmar (also known as Burma) against the democratically elected government, on February 11, 2021 the Biden Administration issued an Executive Order on Blocking Property with Respect to the Situation in Burma (E.O.), which launched a new targeted sanctions regime. That same day, the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) designated former and current officials of Burma’s military or security forces and affiliated entities in the jade and gems sector as Specially Designated Nationals (SDNs). In addition, the Commerce Department’s Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) announced a series of steps to tighten export controls on certain ministries, armed forces, and security services, and to limit availability of license exceptions. It has been indicated that these are initial steps, and that further sanctions and export control may follow.