On November 9, 2018, the U.S. Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) extended the expiration date for certain Ukraine-related general licenses related to EN+ Group plc (EN+), United Company RUSAL PLC (RUSAL), and GAZ Group (GAZ).  The expiration date of General Licenses 13G (Authorizing Certain Transactions Necessary to Divest or Transfer Debt, Equity, or Other Holdings in Certain Blocked Persons), 14C (Authorizing Certain Activities Necessary to Maintenance or Wind Down of Operations or Existing Contracts with United Company RUSAL PLC), 15B (Authorizing Certain Activities Necessary to Maintenance or Wind Down of Operations or Existing Contracts with GAZ Group), and 16C (Authorizing Certain Activities Necessary to Maintenance or Wind Down of Operations or Existing Contracts with EN+ Group PLC or JSC EuroSibEnergo) was extended from December 12, 2018 to January 7, 2019.  U.S. persons participating in transactions or activities authorized by these general licenses should provide a detailed report to OFAC within 10 business days of January 7, 2019 (by January 21, 2019).

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On November 5, 2018, the United States fully reimposed sanctions against Iran as part of its decision to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal, also known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (“JCPOA”).  President Trump announced the decision to withdraw on May 8, 2018, thus beginning the “wind-down” period for businesses to withdraw from Iran. 
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As previously covered here, on April 6, 2018, the U.S. Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (“OFAC”) invoked authority provided under the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (“CAATSA”) in order to place several Russian oligarchs, political officials and businesses under their control on its Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons List (“SDN List”).  These designations generally prohibited U.S. persons from engaging in transactions  with the sanctioned individuals  and entities, however OFAC also issued several General Licenses simultaneously which were intended to provide limited windows for maintaining or winding down preexisting transactions with those sanctioned individuals or entities.  OFAC has now partially extended those authorized wind down periods by issuing the following General Licenses last week on September 21, 2018:
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On September 20, 2018, President Trump released a 16-page Executive Order which delegated various Presidential powers established under the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (“CAATSA”) to both the U.S. Secretary of Treasury and the U.S. Secretary of State.  As a result of this delegation, the U.S. Treasury Department‘s Office of Foreign Assets Control (“OFAC”) and the U.S. State Department are now empowered to take actions which include (but are not limited to) designating parties to be sanctioned under various CAATSA provisions, selecting the specific menu-based sanctions to be imposed upon those parties and implementing those menu-based sanctions (we previously covered the CAATSA statute here, here and here).  OFAC also updated its website to provide an additional FAQ response explaining the new Executive Order and indicating that it anticipates promulgating regulations to implement these sanctions.
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President Trump signed a new Executive Order on August 6, 2018, titled “Reimposing Certain Sanctions with Respect to Iran”. The Executive Order was timed to coincide with the last day of the 90-day wind-down period established for activities associated with certain sanctions relief authorized by the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (“JCPOA”).  As a result, the first round of sanctions against Iran will become effective at 12:01 a.m. on August 7, 2018.
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On June 27, 2018, the U.S. Department of  Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (“OFAC”) officially revoked General Licenses H and I.  General License H previously allowed foreign owned or controlled subsidiaries of U.S. companies to engage in limited transactions with Iran that would have otherwise been prohibited under the Iranian Transactions and Sanctions Regulations (the “ITSR”).  General License I previously allowed U.S. persons to negotiate and enter into contingent contracts for exports and reexports to Iran of commercial passenger aircraft and related parts and services that were eligible to potentially receive specific licenses under the Iran Nuclear Deal, otherwise known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (the “JCPOA”).  OFAC previously advised that these revocations would be forthcoming in May, when President Trump formally announced his decision to withdraw from the JCPOA.
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On Monday evening June 18, the U.S. Senate adopted draft legislation in its version of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2019 (the “2019 Defense Bill”) which would: (i) prevent the U.S. Department of Commerce – Bureau of Industry and Security (“BIS”) from fulfilling its agreement to suspend current export controls applicable to Zhongxing Telecommunications Equipment Corporation of Shenzen, China and ZTE Kangxun Telecommunications Ltd. of Hi-New Shenzhen, China (collectively “ZTE”), and (ii) expand existing language in the 2019 Defense Bill to prohibit all U.S. government agencies from contracting with ZTE.  The Senate approved this bill by a vote of 85-10.  After last night’s vote, it has been reported that ZTE shares have dropped more than 25%.  The U.S. House and Senate will still need to reconcile the differences in their versions of the 2019 Defense Bill before they send it to the President, but if they can do so while retaining enough votes to override a Presidential veto then BIS will be unable to remove ZTE from the Denied Persons list and ZTE will continue to be subject to export and re-export prohibitions in transactions involving U.S. origin goods, software and technology.
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President Trump announced today, May 8, 2018, that the United States will withdraw from the Iran Nuclear Deal and will begin reimposing previously waived sanctions on Iran.  The deal, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA, was signed by the U.S. in July 2015 along with China, France, Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom, the European Union and Iran. The White House issued a statement which explained that “President Trump is terminating United States participation in the JCPOA, as it failed to protect America’s national security interests.”

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On April 15, 2018, the Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security (“BIS”) issued a denial order against ZTE Corporation and ZTE Kangxun Telecommunications Ltd. (collectively “ZTE”), effectively banning U.S. companies from providing components to ZTE  because the company had failed to comply with the terms of a disciplinary agreement reached in March 2017 arising from violations of U.S. export control restrictions against Iran and North Korea. It is estimated that U.S. companies provide nearly 25-30 percent of the components used in ZTE products. ZTE’s U.S. subsidiary advertises that it has been ranked by independent industry analysts as the fourth-largest supplier of mobile devices in the U.S. overall and second-largest supplier of prepaid devices.

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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.

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