On March 15, 2018 the U.S. Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) exercised its authority to issue cyber sanctions under Executive Order 13694 and the new Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) by imposing blocking sanctions against 5 Russian entities and 19 Russian individuals connected to previous Russian cyber operations directed towards the United States. In an accompanying press release, OFAC stated that these sanctions were intended to counter Russian destabilizing activities such as interference in the 2016 US election, the 2017 global NotPetya cyber-attack and other cyber-attacks directed at critical U.S. infrastructure sectors. One aspect of this move was somewhat puzzling, because 9 of the total 24 sanctioned entities and individuals were already subject to blocking sanctions for their previous activities. For those 9 sanctioned entities and individuals, (which include Russia’s Federal Security Service (the FSB) and Main Intelligence Directorate (the GRU), whose initial designation we covered here), it is unclear what OFAC seeks to accomplish by imposing blocking sanctions against them for a second time.

Continue Reading OFAC Imposes More Russian Cyber Sanctions and Foreshadows Future Oligarch Sanctions

CAATSA Overview

Congress enacted the “Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act” (CAATSA) on August 2, 2017 in response to Russia’s continuing occupation of the Crimea region of Ukraine and cyber-interference in the 2018 United States Presidential elections. We previously covered CAATSA in blog posts here and here. CAATSA was notable because it passed the House of Representatives with a 419-3 approval margin and passed the Senate with a 98-2 approval margin. Among other things, CAATSA required President Donald Trump to take certain actions on the 180-day anniversary of CAATSA’s adoption, which included (but were not limited to): (i) imposing sanctions (commonly referred to as the “CAATSA Section 231 sanctions”) against persons engaged in “significant transactions” with Russia’s defense or intelligence sectors; and (ii) preparing and submitting a report (commonly referred to as the “CAATSA Section 241 report”) to various congressional committees identifying senior political figures and oligarchs within Russia. January 29, 2018 marked CAATSA’s 180-day anniversary and, as a result, it sparked a flurry of activity related to the CAATSA Section 231 sanctions and the CAATSA Section 241 report.
Continue Reading Russia Sanctions Developments Incite Controversy and Signal Possible Future Changes

Globe showing AsiaThe U.S. Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) has amended its Global Terrorism Sanctions Regulations (GTSR) in order to impose additional sanctions on Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) within the timeline required by the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA). Effective October 31, 2017, persons and entities that OFAC has designated as officials, agents, or affiliates of the IRGC remain subject to secondary blocking sanctions which continue to prohibit them from engaging in activity with US and non-US persons and, in addition, these amendments to the GTSR now impose new sanctions to prohibit the designated IRGC affiliates from receiving humanitarian donations and other forms of assistance. OFAC has provided a list of the IRGC affiliates subject to these amendments here.
Continue Reading OFAC and State Department Update Iran and Russia Sanctions Under Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act

White HouseToday, President Trump officially signed H.R. 3364, the “Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act” (CAATSA) into law. CAATSA originated as a bill which was focused on only Iran. However, partially in response to Russian cyber-interference with the 2016 election, the Senate expanded CAATSA to impose additional sanctions against Russia and also codify into law various sanctions imposed by the Obama Administration in the form of Executive Orders. The House of Representatives then approved these additions and added further sanctions against North Korea. Eventually, the House and Senate approved the final version of CAATSA by a margin of 419-3 and 98-2, respectively. For additional detail on CAATSA’s legislative history, please see our previous alerts here, here and here.

Continue Reading President Signs Russian, Iran and North Korea Sanctions Legislation into Law