New Executive Order Authorizes The Imposition Of Sanctions To Counter Corruption In Venezuela

Author:Ms Jamie L. Boucher, Eytan J. Fisch, Wesley Laine, Joydeep Sengupta and Javier A. Urbina
Profession:Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom (UK) LLP

On November 1, 2018, President Donald Trump issued Executive Order 13850 (E.O. 13850), which broadly targets corrupt practices in Venezuela and builds on several recent rounds of U.S. sanctions against the Venezuelan government, including state-owned companies and key government officials.

E.O. 13850 provides the authority to impose sanctions on, among others, those determined: (i) "to operate in the gold sector of the Venezuelan economy or in any other sector of the Venezuelan economy as may be determined by the Secretary of the Treasury, in consultation with the Secretary of State"; or (ii) to be responsible for or complicit in deceptive or corrupt transactions involving the "Government of Venezuela" or projects or programs it administers, or to be an immediate adult family member of such a person. As with other recent executive orders targeting Venezuela, the term "Government of Venezuela" includes state-owned entities and entities controlled by the Venezuelan government.

The language of E.O. 13850 authorizing sanctions on individuals or entities determined to operate in sectors of Venezuela's economy to be identified is reminiscent of Executive Order 13662 (E.O. 13662), which, in the Ukraine/Russia-related sanctions context, authorized sanctions on any person determined "to operate in such sectors of the Russian Federation economy as may be determined ... such as financial services, energy, metals and mining, engineering, and defense and related materiel." E.O. 13662 has served as the basis for both the more limited sectoral sanctions imposed on Russia's financial, energy and defense sectors and also as an authority under which certain individuals and entities were designated on April 6, 2018, and added to the List of Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons administered by the U.S. Department of the Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC). Please see our April 11, 2018, client alert for more details.

In guidance issued concurrently with E.O. 13850, OFAC stated that the order is designed to counter corruption within the Venezuelan government that has exploited Venezuela's people and resources and continues to exacerbate the economic and humanitarian crises in Venezuela.1 In a speech discussing the new sanctions and the Trump administration's Latin America policies, National Security Advisor John Bolton stated, "The new sanctions will target networks operating within corrupt Venezuelan economic sectors and deny them...

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