On September 14, 2021, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s (KSA’ s) Cabinet of Ministers launched a new Permanent Ministerial Committee for Examining Foreign Investments (CEFI) that would review foreign investments for potential national security threats. This development comes at an important time as the Kingdom opens its doors for foreign investments in pursuit of the Vision 2030 plan. The Ministry of Investment recently reported that foreign investment licenses in the KSA rose 108% in the first half of 2021 in comparison the preceding year. The committee is expected to function in a manner similar to the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), and the proposed UK National Security and Investment Bill, although its future role and implementation remain to be determined.
On August 9, 2021, the one-year anniversary of the claimed reelection of Belarusian leader Aleksandr Lukashenka, President Biden issued an “Executive Order on Blocking Property of Additional Persons Contributing to the Situation in Belarus” (August 9, 2021 Executive Order). The Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) implemented the executive order by sanctioning 27 individuals and 17 entities related to the Lukashenka regime.
The Biden Administration has signaled an expanded commitment to longstanding U.S. anti-corruption policies, and recent enforcement actions and policy announcements provide insights into what foreign officials, companies and investors can expect. Early signs indicate an intent both to bolster core anti-corruption enforcement through the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) and anti-money laundering tools (see here), and to explore administrative tools such as targeted sanctions.
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.
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.
On January 13, 2021, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) issued a withhold-release order (WRO) on all cotton and tomato products from China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) based on information that reasonably indicated that such products used forced labor. This action comes after CBP’s December 2020 WRO on cotton and cotton products produced by Xinjiang Production and Construction Corporation (XPCC). Continue reading →
On December 2, 2020, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) issued an import detention or Withhold Release Order (WRO) against cotton produced by Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps (XPCC) based on information that reasonably indicated XPCC used forced labor within its cotton supply chains. This action comes after CBP issued five WROs in September 2020 on products found to be reliant on state-sponsored forced labor in Xinjiang. The U.S. government has expressed ongoing concern about human rights abuses of the Uyghur minority in this part of China.
Continuing its “maximum pressure” campaign against Iran, the United States has (a) ratcheted up sanctions under Executive Orders that provide for the imposition of secondary sanctions on non-U.S. companies that engage in transactions with Iranian financial institutions, and (b) authorized the imposition of secondary sanctions on non-U.S. companies that engage in arms-related transactions with Iran pursuant to a new Executive Order, notwithstanding the expiration of the United Nations arms embargo under Security Council Resolution 2231 implementing the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).
On August 11, 2020, the Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) issued a new guidance document, the Sudan Program and Darfur Sanctions Guidance (“Sudan Guidance”), which clarifies the current status of sanctions and export controls that apply to Sudan and the Government of Sudan. The Sudan Guidance confirms the removal of comprehensive sanctions on Sudan, permitting U.S. persons to engage in most economic activity. However, individual sanctions listings in Sudan and South Sudan continue and a U.S. embargo policy remains in place for exports to Sudan.
On March 12, 2020, the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) issued sanctions against a second affiliate of PJSC Rosneft Oil Company (Rosneft) related to its activities with Venezuela. OFAC added TNK Trading International S.A. of Switzerland (TNK) to the Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons List (SDN List), and the Sectoral Sanctions Identifications List (SSI List) under Directives 2 and 4, pursuant to Executive Orders 13850 and 13662. Previously, on February 18, 2020, OFAC placed Rosneft Trading S.A. (Rosneft Trading), a Swiss subsidiary of Rosneft, on the SDN List for purchasing, transferring, brokering, and otherwise facilitating the shipment of crude oil from PdVSA. OFAC has authorized a wind down period for both companies through 12:01 a.m. U.S. Eastern Time on May 20, 2020.