by | Jul 28, 2017 | Markets, Trade Policy

Thirteen current and former government officials in Venezuela are designated for sanctions that freeze their U.S. assets and bar U.S. persons from doing business with them.

The U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) has added 13 current or former senior officials of the Venezuelan government to its list of Specially Designated Nationals (SDN) subject to sanctions: Any assets they may have in U.S. jurisdictions are frozen. U.S. individuals and companies are prohibited from conducting transactions with them.

The OFAC action is pursuant to Executive Order 13692, which authorizes sanctions against government officials and others involved in curtailing human rights or undermining democracy in Venezuela. The executive order was signed in March 2015; seven Venezuelans in the government and military were immediately placed on the SDN list. Eight members of Venezuela’s Supreme Court of Justice were added in May of this year.

The latest entries in the list of sanctioned Venezuelans come ahead of the planned July 30 election of a National Constituent Assembly (Asamblea Nacional Constituyente, or ANC) that is charged with rewriting the Venezuelan constitution and may choose to dissolve Venezuelan state institutions. They bring the total number of sanctioned Venezuelans on the EO-13692 SDN list to 28.

Sanctioned Venezuelans: Economic Pressure Points

The sanctions aim to exert economic pressure on the country’s leaders. As Descartes Datamyne™ Venezuela trade data illustrates, the country has seen its cross-border trade in goods throttled over the last 10 years, with imports down 48% from the the decade’s 2012 peak, and exports off 92% from the high point in 2007.

Sanctioned Venezuelans: 10-year trend in Venezuelan trade

The U.S. remains the country’s top trade partner. Venezuela receives 26% of imports from and ships 23% of its exports to the U.S. Our U.S. data makes clear the importance of petroleum in the U.S.-Venezuela trade relationship:

Sanctioned Venezuelans: Top U.S. Imports from Venezuela 2016

Sanctioned Venezuelans: Top U.S. Exports to Venezuela 2016

Sanctioned Venezuelans: Risks for U.S. Companies

For U.S. entities engaged in trade with Venezuela, an already risky business just got riskier.

U.S. importers and exporters are legally obliged to keep abreast of and operate within the constraints of sanctions and embargoes. Failure to do so can result in property seizures, fines, civil and criminal penalties. Beyond abiding with the prohibition on doing business with sanctioned persons, U.S. companies need to be wary of transactions or relationships that can be disrupted by the freezing of sanctioned parties’ assets.

More sanctions targeting Venezuelan entities may be coming soon. Reuters reports that the U.S. is readying a “steady drumbeat” of economic responses to the Venezuelan crisis, up to and including bans on imports of Venezuelan oil.

Nor is the EO-13692 Venezuelan sanctions program the only one to watch: It is among 25 currently active sanctions programs administered by the U.S. OFAC.

Descartes MK Denied Party ScreeningTM solution is designed to help businesses keep pace with the rapidly evolving denied, restricted and sanctioned parties regulations worldwide. To learn more, click here – or just ask us.

Update 7/31/17: OFAC announced it has extended EO-13692 sanctions to Venezuelan President Nicholas Maduro Moros. Secretary of the Treasury Steven T. Mnuchin further stated that anyone who participates in the National Constituent Assembly could be exposed to future sanctions. – Editor.


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