On March 9, 2015, in response to the current political situation in Venezuela, the U.S. President issued an Executive Order (E.O.) “Blocking Property and Suspending Entry of Certain Persons Contributing to the Situation in Venezuela.” This E.O. authorizes sanctions against certain categories of persons, and imposes sanctions on seven designated individuals. The sanctions authorized by the E.O. are the blocking of a designated person’s property and, in the case of individuals, a ban on their entry into the United States.
The E.O. authorizes sanctions on any person determined by the Secretary of the Treasury, in consultation with the Secretary of State, to be “responsible for or complicit in, or responsible for ordering, controlling, or otherwise directing, or to have participated in, directly or indirectly, any of the following in or in relation to Venezuela:”
- Actions or policies that undermine democratic processes or institutions;
- Significant acts of violence or conduct that constitutes a serious abuse or violation of human rights, including against persons involved in antigovernment protests in Venezuela in or since February 2014;
- Actions that prohibit, limit, or penalize the exercise of freedom of expression or peaceful assembly; or
- Public corruption by senior officials within the Government of Venezuela.
In addition, the E.O. authorizes sanctions on any person determined to:
- Be a current or former leader of an entity that has, or whose members have, engaged in an activity described above or of any entity whose property is blocked pursuant to the E.O.;
- Be a current or former official of the Government of Venezuela;
- Have materially assisted, sponsored, or provided financial, material, or technological support for, or goods or services to or in support of a person whose property is blocked pursuant to the E.O. or an activity described above; or
- Be owned or controlled by, or to have acted or purported to act on behalf of, directly or indirectly, any person whose property is blocked pursuant to the E.O.
Finally, the E.O. imposes sanctions on seven individuals, all of whom are connected in some manner to the Venezuelan judicial system, military or intelligence agencies:
- Antonio José Benavides Torres, Commander of the Central Integral Strategic Defense Region of the National Armed Forces, former Director of Operations for the National Guard;
- Gustavo Enrique González López, Director General of the National Intelligence Service and President of the Strategic Center of Security and Protection of the Homeland;
- Justo José Noguera Pietri, President of the Venezuelan Corporation of Guayana, former General Commander of the National Guard;
- Katherine Nayarith Haringhton Padron, National Level Prosecutor of the 20th District Office of the Public Ministry;
- Manuel Eduardo Pérez Urdaneta, Director of the National Police;
- Manuel Gregorio Bernal Martínez, Chief of the 31st Armored Brigade of Caracas, former Director General of the National Intelligence Service; and
- Miguel Alcides Vivas Landino, Inspector General of the National Armed Forces, former Commander of the Andes Integral Strategic Defense Region of the National Armed Forces.
Any property in which any of these individuals has an interest that comes within the possession or control of U.S. persons must be blocked and reported to the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) within 10 business days. OFAC regulations define property broadly to include contracts, services, funds and real property, among other items.