United States Lobbies G-7 Nations to Adopt Global Magnitsky Sanctions, Now a "Central Tool of U.S. Foreign Policy" As discussed extensively on this website and at MassPoint PLLC, the United States' Global Magnitsky Sanctions are a powerful tool in the U.S.…
Today the United States took the extraordinary step of imposing sanctions on Turkey's Minister of Justice Abdulhamit Gul and Minister of Interior Suleyman Soylu. The sanctions were imposed under the Global Magnitsky Sanctions program, promulgated by Executive Order 13818 pursuant to the Global Magnitsky Act of 2016 and the International Emergency Economic Powers Act, among other legal authorities.
The introduction of legislation after the Helsinki summit to constrain the President's sanctions authority vis-a-vis Russia is not surprising. As anticipated in this MassPoint post of July 18, "the Helsinki meeting could have legal consequences, should Congress move to insert itself, beyond its standard law-making and oversight role, in sanctions and trade matters," including in the mold of CAATSA.
The meeting in Helsinki between the U.S. and Russian presidents has (as presumably everyone knows) sparked strong reactions in the United States, particularly in response to the U.S. President's performance. Beyond the politics of the moment and its aftermath, the Helsinki meeting could have legal consequences, should Congress move to insert itself, beyond its standard law-making and oversight role, in sanctions and trade matters. And not just with respect to Russia. There are a number of ways that Congress can play a greater role in sanctions and trade. Such Congressional involvement, if it materializes, would likely be designed to constrain the President, such as by restricting his ability to lift, not impose or modify sanctions through Executive action.
For U.S. persons seeking to engage in permitted noncommercial, personal remittance or inheritance-related transactions, the higher risk sensitivity of some third country (and U.S.-based) financial institutions may complicate (or thwart in some cases), legal transactions. In light of this, persons seeking to engage in such legal transactions in the post-U.S. JCPOA withdrawal environment should exercise extra care in initiating and executing legal transfers with third country financial institutions.
The Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) today sanctioned Malaysia-based Mahan Travel and Tourism Sdn Bhd ("Mahan Travel") pursuant to Executive Order 13,224. Rather then information should be taken as a prompt to other travel agencies or vendors that directly or indirectly “act for or on behalf of Mahan Air” to disassociate from the airline. Such other travel agencies or vendors should, at minimum, review and understand today’s Mahan Travel action, assess their sanctions and related risk (legal, commercial, etc.) and take defensive compliance steps that are appropriate to their sanctions/legal exposure and commercial position. The broader takeaway from today’s OFAC action against Mahan Travel is that it reinforces the fact that U.S. sanctions and other laws are global in reach. Non-U.S. parties should take note of their potential exposure to U.S. sanctions or other legal enforcement actions.
U.S. multinational companies/entities as well as dual citizens/nationals should understand their heightened sanctions exposure under the Global Magnitsky Act, EO 13,818 and the GloMag Regulations. Multinational companies/entities would be well-advised to update their risk-based compliance programs and educate their relevant personnel to make compliance more likely, including by avoiding inadvertent violations of the Global Magnitsky Act, EO 13,818 and the GloMag Regs.
The sentiments expressed by Senator Rubio and others reflect commercial, competition, policy, and strategic concerns held by business, policy makers, defense and national security officials, and others about China and Chinese firms like ZTE and Huawei. But when raised in the context of and as a justification for a specific legal enforcement action, the sentiments blur the lines between what should primarily be an enforcement based on facts and applicable laws, rather than an instrument for advancing wider policy objectives that are not specifically advanced by the laws applicable to the conduct for which ZTE was penalized. And, while Secretary Ross' stated rationale to impose the harsher penalty to change ZTE's behavior may have been sound, the recommendation of the career professionals with expertise in sanctions and export controls enforcement should, perhaps, have carried the day. Secretary Ross' description of the process leading to the export ban and the mess that has followed it give more reason to ask whether, in the first place, the export ban was the appropriate remedy as a matter of applicable laws and the objectives served by them.
Much of the talk of trade war between the United States and China, and perhaps other countries, has focused on traditional trade measures and counter-measures like tariffs that strike at the core of international trade: most basically, the movement of goods and services across international borders. But there are two additional fronts of a U.S.-China trade war (thus far): intellectual property and the use of U.S. sanctions and other laws to "coerce and deter" economic rivals like China.
On May 17, the House Appropriations Committee unanimously approved a measure to block the Commerce Department from using appropriated funds to alter the export ban (i.e., the “denial order”) that the agency activated against ZTE on April 15, 2018. The ZTE measure was approved as an amendment to the fiscal year 2019 bill funding the Departments of Commerce and Justice, Science, and Related Agencies (“Commerce Appropriations Bill”), which was approved by the Appropriations Committee on May 17.