Recent news from Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control: January 18

The Office of Foreign Assets Control took sanctions action over the last two weeks across multiple programs:

Terrorism-related Sanctions

  • OFAC Designates Supporters of Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps–Qods Force: OFAC on Jan. 22 designated Iraqi airline Fly Baghdad and its CEO, Basheer Abdulkadhim Alwan al-Shabbani, for providing assistance to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps–Qods Force (IRGC-QF) and its proxy groups in Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon. OFAC also designated three leaders and supporters of one of the IRGC-QF’s main Iran-aligned militias in Iraq, Kata’ib Hizballah (KH), as well as a business that moves and launders funds for KH. OFAC designated individuals Hossein Moanes al-Ibudi, Riyad Ali Hussein al-Azzawi and Awqad Muhsin Faraj al-Hamidawi and a company, Al-Massal Land Travel and Tourism Company which was used by KH to launder money. Read more.
  • Related to this action, OFAC issued Counter Terrorism General License 27, “Authorizing Civil Aviation Safety and Wind Down Transactions Involving Fly Baghdad” and new Frequently Asked Question 1159.
  • OFAC Targets Additional Hamas Financial Networks: OFAC on Jan. 22 imposed a fifth round of sanctions on Hamas since the October 7 terrorist attack on Israel. OFAC’s action targets networks of Hamas-affiliated financial exchanges in Gaza, their owners, and associates, and particularly financial facilitators that have played key roles in funds transfers, including cryptocurrency transfers, from the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Qods Force (IRGC-QF) to Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) in Gaza. Concurrent with OFAC’s designations, the United Kingdom and Australia also placed sanctions on key Hamas officials and facilitators. Read more.

Iran-related Sanctions

  • OFAC Designates Companies Supporting Iran’s Qods Force and Houthis: OFAC on Jan. 12 designated two companies in Hong Kong and the United Arab Emirates—Cielo Maritime Ltd and Global Tech Marine Services Inc—for shipping Iranian commodities on behalf of the network of Iran-based, Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Qods Force (IRGC-QF)-backed Houthi financial facilitator, Sa’id al-Jamal. OFAC also identified four vessels (MEHLE, SINCERE 02, MOLECULE and FORTUNE GALAXY) as blocked property in which these companies have an interest. The revenue from the commodity sales finances the Houthis and their continued attacks against international shipping in the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden. Read more.

Russia-related Sanctions

  • OFAC Identifies 18 Vessels Linked to OFAC-Designated Hennesea: OFAC on Jan. 18 took its first oil price cap enforcement action of 2024, targeting a shipping company linked to a price cap violation. United Arab Emirates-based shipping company Hennesea Holdings Limited (Hennesea), owner of 18 vessels, including the HS Atlantica, was previously identified by OFAC as having engaged in the transport of crude oil of Russian Federation origin priced above the $60 per barrel price cap while using a covered U.S.-based provider after the price cap policy came into effect. OFAC identified the following vessels, all of which are owned by Hennesea: ARISTO (IMO 9327413), HAI II (IMO 9259599), HS ARGE (IMO 9299745), HS ATLANTICA (IMO 9322839), HS BURAQ (IMO 9381732), HS ESBERG (IMO 9410894), HS EVERETT (IMO 9410870), HS GLORY (IMO 9249087), HS LEGEND (IMO 9381744), HS STAR (IMO 9274446), LA PRIDE (IMO 9274616), MONA (IMO 9314818), NELLIS (IMO 9322267), OSPEROUS (IMO 9412995), PERIA (IMO 9322827), SARA II (IMO 9301615), SENSUS (IMO 9296585), and UZE (IMO 9323338). OFAC’s action prohibits transactions with the identified vessels and freezes any assets they may have under U.S. jurisdiction. Read more.
  • In related news, OFAC issued Russia-related General License 13H, “Authorizing Certain Administrative Transactions Prohibited by Directive 4 under Executive Order 14024,” and Russia-related General License 86, “Authorizing Limited Safety and Environmental Transactions Involving Certain Persons or Vessels Blocked on January 18, 2024.” OFAC is also amending Frequently Asked Question 1157.

Corruption and Human Rights Abuse Designations

  • OFAC Sanctions Former Guatemalan Government Official: OFAC on Jan. 17 sanctioned the former Guatemalan Minister of Energy and Mining, Alberto Pimentel Mata for his role in exploiting the Guatemalan mining sector through widespread bribery schemes, including schemes related to government contracts and mining licenses. Additionally, Pimentel reportedly accepted large monthly payments to facilitate the acquisition of necessary permits and licenses for a private company operating in the energy and mining sector of Guatemala. Pimentel is being designated pursuant to Executive Order 13818, which builds upon and implements the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act and targets perpetrators of serious human rights abuse and corruption around the world. OFAC’s action follows the Department of State’s October 2023 announcement of visa restriction on Pimentel and other individuals for their involvement in significant corruption. Read more.
  • OFAC on Jan. 17 removed from its Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons List several Guatemala-based organizations that were previously designated pursuant to E.O. 13818 – Global Magnitsky.

Transnational Criminal Organizations Sanctions Regulations

  • OFAC Issues General Licenses to Authorize Certain Transactions with Ansarallah: OFAC on Jan. 17 issued Counter Terrorism General License 22 to allow certain transactions to Yemen related to the provision of agricultural commodities, medicine, medical devices, replacement parts or software updates involving Ansarallah. OFAC also issued General Licenses 23, 24, 25 and 26. GL 23 authorizes certain transactions related to telecommunications Mail, and certain internet-based communications involving Ansarallah. GL 24 authorizes certain noncommercial, personal remittances involving Ansarallah. GL 25 authorizes certain transactions related to refined petroleum products in Yemen involving Ansarallah. GL 26 authorizes certain transactions necessary to port and airport operations involving Ansarallah. Read more.
  • OFAC Issues FAQ 1158 related to Ansarallah: OFAC on Jan. 17 issued a new counter terrorism-related Frequently Asked Question 1158 to answer the impact of OFAC’s recent designation of Ansarallah and steps the U.S. government is taking to ensure that commercial goods and humanitarian assistance continues to flow to the Yemeni people. Read FAQ 1158.

Venezuela-related Sanctions 

  • OFAC Issues General License 5N: OFAC on Jan. 16 issued Venezuela-related General License 5N to authorize certain transactions related to Petróleos de Venezuela, S.A. 2020 8.5 Percent Bond on or after April 16, 2024. GL 5N does not authorize any transactions or activities otherwise prohibited by the Venezuela Sanctions Regulations, or any other part of 31 CFR chapter V. Read more.