On Nov. 23, 2015, President Obama issued an Executive Order to establish a new Burundi sanctions program prohibiting U.S. persons from engaging in most transactions with certain designated individuals and entities who contributed to the recent violence in Burundi. Specifically, the new U.S. sanctions against Burundi target individuals and entities deemed to “threaten peace and security in Burundi, undermine democratic processes, or who are responsible for or complicit in human rights abuses.” In a corresponding action, the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) imposed targeted sanctions on four individuals pursuant to the president’s order. The sanctions added the four individuals to OFAC’s list of Specially Designated Nationals (SDN). The Executive Order and corresponding list of designated individuals are available here.
The individuals added to the SDN list include Burundi’s minister of public security, the deputy director-general of the national police, and the former Burundian defense minister and intelligence chief of staff, who were both leaders of a coup attempt against Burundi’s elected government in May 2015. U.S. persons are prohibited from engaging in all transactions, including donating, contributing, providing, or receiving funds, goods, or services by, to, from, or for the benefit of the designated persons. Furthermore, the new measures suspend entry of the designated persons into the U.S. by means of State Department visa bans.
The U.S. action follows the imposition of targeted EU sanctions on four individuals (including one of those targeted under U.S. sanctions) involved in the violence in Burundi on Oct. 2, 2015. The EU sanctions froze the targeted individuals’ assets and imposed a travel ban.
Anyone doing business in or with Burundi or Burundians who may be subject to U.S. sanctions should assess, in conjunction with counsel, their existing and proposed international transactions to determine whether the activities are permissible. We note that due to the dynamic state of affairs in Burundi, additional sanctions are possible if the situation in Burundi continues to deteriorate.