On November 23, 2015, President Barack Obama issued an Executive Order targeting parties contributing to the ongoing unrest, violence, and political repression in Burundi. As a result, Burundi joins the list of African countries considered to be higher risk from a U.S. sanctions perspective. Other countries on that list include Côte d’Ivoire, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Libya, Somalia, the Republic of South Sudan, Zimbabwe and the Central African Republic. The United States also continues to maintain comprehensive sanctions on the Republic of the Sudan. 

In addition to issuing the Executive Order establishing a new sanctions program, President Obama designated four Burundi individuals on the list of Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons (“SDN List”) maintained by the U.S. Department of the Treasury, Office of Foreign Assets Control. Those persons include the Minister of Public Security, the former Defense Minister, and a top military official. U.S. persons generally are prohibited from engaging in any transactions or other dealings with or involving individuals designated on the SDN List as well as any entities that are 50 percent or more owned by one or more individuals designated on the SDN List. 

Based on the above, U.S. companies doing business with or involving Burundi should undertake additional due diligence on the parties with which they are dealing to ensure that they are not one of the recently designated individuals or an entity that is 50 percent or more owned by one or more of these individuals. Also, given the possibility that additional parties could be designated on the SDN List pursuant to the new Executive Order, U.S. companies should, as always, ensure that the U.S. restricted parties lists against which they are screening are up to date.