OFAC REMOVAL OF 45 PARTIES FROM THE LIST OF SPECIALLY DESIGNATED NATIONALS DESERVES ATTENTION.

On March 24, 2015, the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) announced the removal of 45 parties from the list of Specially Designated Nationals (SDN List). All had previously been designated in relation to U.S. Cuba sanctions. On closer review, it appears that none of these removals are particularly important or newsworthy—dead persons, dissolved companies, sunken ships and so on. U.S. officials reported to media sources that this was a routine exercise in cleaning up out-of-date sanctions listings.

So why the fuss? Under U.S. Cuba sanctions, in addition to the broad embargo, there is a lengthy list of SDNs. This includes a number of major companies, key individuals and vessels. This can present another obstacle in Cuba in areas where sanctions are relaxed (even where activities are newly permitted, SDNs remain off limits normally). Thus, both companies interested in Cuba and the sanctioned parties themselves are watching for any signals that the Obama administration will update the SDN List as part of its Cuba sanctions reforms.

What should we expect? Based on past practice, it is likely that the U.S. government will be slow and deliberate in removing parties from the SDN List. Removal is an important carrot, and U.S. officials will likely seek changes in behavior and specific actions in advance of de-listing (reparations, privatization, remedying human rights practices, distancing from the regime and so on depending on the party). This is the approach that the U.S. has taken with SDNs in Myanmar/Burma as sanctions reform has proceeded in that market.

How do sanctioned parties come off the SDN List? There are two paths:

First, the U.S. government can remove the party on its own initiative—this is an area of executive discretion and the President or OFAC can take action without the need for any process or Congressional action in most cases.

Second, sanctioned parties can seek removal under a formal procedure for de-listing conducted by OFAC under 31 C.F.R. § 501.807. Under the procedure, the SDNs “provide arguments and evidence as to why “insufficient basis exists for the designation” and may “propose remedial steps ... such as corporate reorganization, resignation of persons from positions in a blocked entity, or similar steps, which the person believes would negate the basis for designation.” The precedents are few, and there is no set time limit for the process. However, OFAC has de-listed SDNs in the past based on formal requests under § 501.807.

Where the revised Cuba sanctions permit activities or trade, it will be important for companies and individuals to be vigilant for SDN involvement. However, should a situation arise where an SDN is the only, or most capable, partner for a U.S. company, that company can reach out to counsel in Washington, D.C., to discuss the potential for de-listing. There are paths to engage with U.S. policy makers to gauge the prospects for a given party, and the SDN can petition for removal. U.S. officials also may consider licenses to authorize specific business with SDNs. The involvement of U.S. companies can make a significant difference in the U.S. response versus an SDN approaching on its own. However, persons subject to U.S. jurisdiction should be careful not to transact with or facilitate on behalf of any SDN. This requires careful compliance planning.

Given the above, expect those interested in Cuba to continue to carefully watch any changes to the SDN List for clues to U.S. policy, even if it only turns out to be a defunct company or sunken ship.

The following deletions have been made to OFAC's SDN List: 

ABASTECEDORA NAVAL Y INDUSTRIAL, S.A. (a.k.a. ANAINSA), Panama [CUBA].
ANAINSA (a.k.a. ABASTECEDORA NAVAL Y INDUSTRIAL, S.A.), Panama [CUBA].
ABDELNUR, Nury de Jesus, Panama (individual) [CUBA].
AGENCIA DE VIAJES GUAMA (a.k.a. GUAMA TOUR; a.k.a. GUAMATUR, S.A.; a.k.a. VIAJES GUAMA TOURS), Bal Harbour Shopping Center, Via Italia, Panama City, Panama [CUBA].
VIAJES GUAMA TOURS (a.k.a. AGENCIA DE VIAJES GUAMA; a.k.a. GUAMA TOUR; a.k.a. GUAMATUR, S.A.), Bal Harbour Shopping Center, Via Italia, Panama City, Panama [CUBA].
GUAMATUR, S.A. (a.k.a. AGENCIA DE VIAJES GUAMA; a.k.a. GUAMA TOUR; a.k.a. VIAJES GUAMA TOURS), Bal Harbour Shopping Center, Via Italia, Panama City, Panama [CUBA].
GUAMA TOUR (a.k.a. AGENCIA DE VIAJES GUAMA; a.k.a. GUAMATUR, S.A.; a.k.a. VIAJES GUAMA TOURS), Bal Harbour Shopping Center, Via Italia, Panama City, Panama [CUBA].
ALEGRIA DE PIO (Naviera Maritima de Arosa, Spain) (vessel) [CUBA].
AVALON, S.A., Colon Free Zone, Panama [CUBA].
BEWELL CORPORATION, INC., Panama [CUBA].
CARBONICA, S.A., Panama [CUBA].
CARIBBEAN HAPPY LINES (a.k.a. CARIBBEAN HAPPY LINES CO.), Panama [CUBA].
CARIBBEAN HAPPY LINES CO. (a.k.a. CARIBBEAN HAPPY LINES), Panama [CUBA].
CARIBSUGAR, S.A., Panama [CUBA].
CARISUB, S.A., Panama [CUBA].
CASTELL VALDEZ, Osvaldo Antonio, Panama (individual) [CUBA].
CHAMET IMPORT, S.A., Panama [CUBA].
COMPANIA PESQUERA INTERNACIONAL, S.A., Panama [CUBA].
DELGADO ARSENIO, Antonio, Panama (individual) [CUBA].
DUQUE, Carlos Jaen, Panama (individual) [CUBA].
FAMESA INTERNATIONAL, S.A., Panama [CUBA].
GLOBAL MARINE OVERSEAS, INC., Panama [CUBA].
HERMANN SHIPPING CORP., INC., Panama [CUBA].
HYALITE (Whiteswan Shipping Co., Ltd., Cyprus) (vessel) [CUBA].
INVERSIONES LUPAMAR, S.A. (a.k.a. LUPAMAR INVESTMENT COMPANY), Panama [CUBA].
LUPAMAR INVESTMENT COMPANY (a.k.a. INVERSIONES LUPAMAR, S.A.), Panama [CUBA].
KOL INVESTMENTS, INC., Miami, FL, United States [CUBA].
LOUTH HOLDINGS, S.A., Panama [CUBA].
PADRON TRUJILLO, Amado, Panama (individual) [CUBA].
PESCADOS Y MARISCOS DE PANAMA, S.A. (a.k.a. PESMAR S.A.; a.k.a. PEZMAR S.A.), Panama City, Panama [CUBA].
PESMAR S.A. (a.k.a. PESCADOS Y MARISCOS DE PANAMA, S.A.; a.k.a. PEZMAR S.A.), Panama City, Panama [CUBA].
PEZMAR S.A. (a.k.a. PESCADOS Y MARISCOS DE PANAMA, S.A.; a.k.a. PESMAR S.A.), Panama City, Panama [CUBA].
PIRAMIDE INTERNATIONAL, Panama [CUBA].
RADIO SERVICE, S.A., Panama [CUBA].
RECICLAJE INDUSTRIAL, S.A., Panama [CUBA].
ROSE ISLANDS (Shipley Shipping Corp., Panama) (vessel) [CUBA].
SIBONEY INTERNACIONAL, S.A., Edificio Balmoral, 82 Via Argentina, Panama City, Panama; Venezuela [CUBA].
STERN, Alfred Kaufman, Prague, Czech Republic (individual) [CUBA].
TALLER DE REPARACIONES NAVALES, S.A. (a.k.a. TARENA, S.A.), Panama City, Panama [CUBA].
TARENA, S.A. (a.k.a. TALLER DE REPARACIONES NAVALES, S.A.), Panama City, Panama [CUBA].
TECHNIC DIGEMEX CORP., Calle 34 No. 4-50, Office 301, Panama City, Panama [CUBA].
TEMIS SHIPPING CO., Panama [CUBA].
TRAVEL SERVICES, INC., Hialeah, FL, United States [CUBA].
TREVISO TRADING CORPORATION, Edificio Banco de Boston, Panama City, Panama [CUBA].
HEYWOOD NAVIGATION CORPORATION, c/o MELFI MARINE CORPORATION S.A., Oficina 7, Edificio Senorial, Calle 50, Apartado 31, Panama City 5, Panama [CUBA].
POCHO NAVIGATION CO. LTD., c/o EMPRESA DE NAVEGACION MAMBISA, Apartado 543, San Ignacio 104, Havana, Cuba [CUBA].
BROTHERS (f.k.a. TULIP ISLANDS) (C4QK) Bulk Carrier 25,573DWT 16,605GRT Cyprus flag (Ciflare Shipping Co. Ltd.) (vessel) [CUBA].
TULIP ISLANDS (a.k.a. BROTHERS) (C4QK) Bulk Carrier 25,573DWT 16,605GRT Cyprus flag (Ciflare Shipping Co. Ltd.) (vessel) [CUBA].
CARIBBEAN SALVOR (9H2275) Tug 669DWT 856GRT Malta flag (Compania Navegacion Golfo S.A.) (vessel) [CUBA].
HARNMAN H (f.k.a. PEONY ISLANDS) (5BXH) Bulk Cargo 26,400DWT 15,864GRT Cyprus flag (PEONY SHIPPING CO. LTD. (SDN)) (vessel) [CUBA].
PEONY ISLANDS (a.k.a. HARNMAN H) (5BXH) Bulk Cargo 26,400DWT 15,864GRT Cyprus flag (PEONY SHIPPING CO. LTD. (SDN)) (vessel) [CUBA].
NEW GROVE (f.k.a. KASPAR) (P3QJ3) General Cargo 1,909DWT 754GRT Cyprus flag (Oakgrove Shipping Co. Ltd.) (vessel) [CUBA].
KASPAR (a.k.a. NEW GROVE) (P3QJ3) General Cargo 1,909DWT 754GRT Cyprus flag (Oakgrove Shipping Co. Ltd.) (vessel) [CUBA].
PINECONE (f.k.a. GRETE) (P3QH3) General Cargo 1,941DWT 753GRT Cyprus flag (Pinecone Shipping Co. Ltd.) (vessel) [CUBA].
GRETE (a.k.a. PINECONE) (P3QH3) General Cargo 1,941DWT 753GRT Cyprus flag (Pinecone Shipping Co. Ltd.) (vessel) [CUBA].
RAVENS (9H2485) General Cargo 2,468DWT 1,586GRT Malta flag (ATAMALLO SHIPPING CO. LTD. (a.k.a. ANTAMALLO SHIPPING CO. LTD.) (SDN)) (vessel) [CUBA].
TEPHYS (f.k.a. PAMIT C) (H2RZ) General Cargo 15,123DWT 8,935GRT Cyprus flag (Tephys Shipping Co. Ltd.) (vessel) [CUBA].
PAMIT C (a.k.a. TEPHYS) (H2RZ) General Cargo 15,123DWT 8,935GRT Cyprus flag (Tephys Shipping Co. Ltd.) (vessel) [CUBA].
WEST ISLANDS (C4IB) General Cargo 15,136DWT 9,112GRT Cyprus flag (WEST ISLAND SHIPPING CO. LTD. (SDN)) (vessel) [CUBA].