U.S. Penalizes Chinese Telecom Company ZTE $1.19 Billion Penalty for U.S. Export Violations to Iran and North Korea

On 07 March 2017, the U.S. announced that China’s Zhongxing Telecommunications Equipment Corporation and ZTE Kangxun Telecommunications Ltd., (ZTE), has agreed to a record-high combined civil and criminal penalty of $1.19 billion, after illegally shipping telecommunications equipment to Iran and North Korea in violation of U.S. export controls and sanctions.

U.S. Adds Five Russians to Magnitsky Sanctions, including close aide to President Putin

On 09 January 2017, the Obama Administration announced that it added five Russian nationals to the Magnitsky Sanctions list for human rights abuses. The move by the Obama Administration will further complicate how President-Elect Trump can ease tensions between Russia and the U.S. The most eye-catching designated individual is Aleksandr I. Bastrykin, an aide who directly reports to President Putin.

Departing U.S. Secretary of the Treasury Jacob J. Lew publishes exit memo

On 05-01-2017, the departing U.S. Secretary of the Treasury Jacob J. Lew published his exit memo – Eight Years of Progress at Treasury and a Look to the Future of American Financial Prosperity. His exit memo, similar to his speech last March at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace (regarding the evolution of U.S. sanctions) spells out a warning to limit unilateral sanctions and the use of U.S. secondary sanctions.

U.S. sanctions Russian parties linked to crisis in Crimea & Sevastopol

On 20-12-2016, the U.S. Department of the Treasury sanctioned 7 Russian individuals and 8 companies (including more than 20 subsidiaries of the Russian Agricultural Bank and OAO Novatek) under U.S. sanctions concerning the Crimean Region of the Ukraine. The OFAC measures, parallel to the EU measures, are a reaction to the U.S. Government’s determination of Russia’s involvement in the ongoing crisis in the Crimean peninsula.

U.S. President Obama orders Cyber-realted Sanctions on Russia following Hacking during Presidential Elections

On 29 December 2016, President Obama issued a new set of sanctions against Russia. These are cyber-related sanctions as a result of U.S. determination that Russia was involved in the hacking of the most recent U.S. Presidential elections. Designations include 9 entities and individuals including the GRU and the FSB (Russian intelligence services). Other measures cover the shutting down of 2 Russian compounds in the U.S., and the expulsion of of 35 Russian diplomats – claimed by the U.S. to be intelligence operatives.

OFAC Updates Iran Sanctions FAQ’s & Introduces General License J-1

On 15 December 2016, the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control updated its FAQ’s regarding the uplifting of sanctions under the JCPOA. The revision of the FAQ’s aim to clarify the U.S. intentions in regard to the triggering of JCPOA snap-back provisions. At the same time OFAC also introduced General License (GL) J-1 to allow the re-export of civilian aircraft to Iran (Authorizing the Re-exportation of Certain Civil Aircraft to Iran on Temporary Sojourn and Related Transactions).