This Executive Order follows the enactment in December 2014 of the Venezuela Defense of Human Rights and Civil Society Act (the Venezuela Sanctions), a Congressional law authorizing the President to impose asset freezes on individuals or entities, including current or former Venezuelan government officials, determined to have:
- committed or directed acts of violence or serious human rights abuses against anti-government protesters in Venezuela;
- ordered or directed the arrest or prosecution of persons in Venezuela primarily because of their exercise of freedom of expression or assembly; or
- knowingly assisted or sponsored the foregoing.
The new Executive Order bans US citizens and companies from dealing with, and requires them to block the property and interests in property of, (a) seven named Venezuelan officials and (b) any person determined by the Secretary of the Treasury:
(A) to be responsible for or complicit in, or responsible for ordering, controlling, or otherwise directing, or to have participated in, directly or indirectly, any of the following in or in relation to Venezuela:
1. actions or policies that undermine democratic processes or institutions;
2. significant acts of violence or conduct that constitute a serious abuse or violation of human rights, including against persons involved in anti-government protests in Venezuela in or since February 2014;
3. actions that prohibit, limit, or penalize the exercise of freedom of expression or peaceful assembly; or
4. public corruption by senior officials within the Government of Venezuela;
(B) to be a current or former leader of an entity that has, or whose members have, engaged in any activity described [above] or of an entity whose property and interests in property are blocked pursuant to this order;
(C) to be a current or former official of the Government of Venezuela;
(D) to have materially assisted, sponsored, or provided financial, material, or technological support for, or goods or services to, or in support of:
1. a person whose property and interests in property are blocked pursuant to this order; or
2. an activity described [above]; or
(E) to be owned or controlled by, or to have acted or purported to act for or on behalf of, directly or indirectly, any person whose property and interests in property are blocked pursuant to this order.
The Venezuelan officials sanctioned in the Executive Order include the Commander of the Central Integral Strategic Defense Region of the National Armed Forces, the Director General of the National Intelligence Service, the President of the Venezuelan Corporation of Guayana, the National Level Prosecutor of the 20th District Office of the Public Ministry, the Director of the National Police, the Chief of the 31st Armored Brigade of Caracas, and the Inspector General of the National Armed Forces
A Note on Cybersecurity Sanctions
The day after enacting the Venezuela Sanctions, President Obama signed into law Congressional sanctions targeting cyberspace espionage (the Cybersecurity Sanctions). The Cybersecurity Sanctions appear in Section 1637 of the nearly 700-page National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2015. The sanctions authorize the President to block the property and interests in property of any foreigner who:
knowingly requests, engages in, supports, facilitates, or benefits from the significant appropriation, through economic or industrial espionage in cyberspace, of technologies or proprietary information developed by United States persons.
It is likely that another Executive Order will be issued soon to implement the Cybersecurity Sanctions.
The Venezuela and Cybersecurity Sanctions further demonstrate the US government’s commitment to using economic and trade sanctions to pursue its foreign policy and national security goals. As an unavoidable byproduct of the increasing use and breadth of sanctions, international businesses must necessarily shoulder an increased compliance burden.
If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to get in touch with the author of this update, any of the key contacts listed on our sanctions microsite or your usual contact.