Wednesday, 14 August 2019 20:25

US widens sanctions against Venezuelan government

The government of US President Donald Trump issued an executive order on August 5 blocking all property or interest in property of the government of Venezuela within or transiting US jurisdiction, widening the previously imposed sanctions to step up pressure on the government of President Nicolás Maduro. 



Venezuela flagThe sanctions refer to the state and government of Venezuela, any political subdivision, agency, or instrumentality thereof, including the Central Bank of Venezuela and state oil company Petróleos de Venezuela (PDVSA), as well as any person owned or controlled by the aforementioned, and any person who has acted or purported to act for or on behalf of the abovementioned.

While this is not the first time that the US government imposes economic sanctions on the Venezuelan government, previous sanctions restricted operations involving certain debt or assets of the government, or individuals and entities listed on the Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons (SDN) list. 



Under the extended sanctions, if not authorised by the US Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), US citizens are prohibited from engaging in all transactions with persons meeting the definition of the government of Venezuela or entities in which they have, directly or indirectly, a 50 per cent or greater ownership interest, regardless of whether that citizen appears on the SDN list.

"In reality, this latest measure is more limited in scope, consisting of a set of sanctions against the government of Venezuela, and not the country of Venezuela as a whole," according to law firm Gibson Dunn. 

"In terms of its direct impact, the executive order’s reach is also blunted somewhat by the fact that Venezuela’s most economically significant actor, PDVSA, was already sanctioned earlier this year, as were Venezuela’s central bank and several of the country’s larger state-affiliated financial institutions. What this latest measure does is fill in the gaps to cover all remaining elements of the government of Venezuela," the law firm said.


However, OFAC’s new regulations authorise US citizens to continue to provide humanitarian support to the Venezuelan people, including transactions through the US financial system for certain authorised activities related to food, agricultural commodities, medicine, and medical devices, non-commercial, personal remittances, international organisations, telecommunications and mail, as well as the Internet, medical services, and non-governmental organisations. 



OFAC’s new regulations also authorise transactions with Juan Guaidó, the National Assembly, and individuals appointed or designated by Guaidó.

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