On July 26, 2019, President Trump issued an Executive Order (EO) creating a new sanctions program for persons contributing to the instability in Mali. The EO authorizes blocking sanctions on persons directly or indirectly engaged in various activities in Mali, such as threatening the peace and security of Mali, undermining democracy, committing human rights abuses, engaging in corruption, and obstructing the implementation of the 2015 Agreement on Peace and Reconciliation in Mali. The EO also bars the entry of blocked persons into the United States. This sanctions program is not being imposed against the country of Mali as a whole, but rather targets certain persons with list-based sanctions.

OFAC has not yet designated any persons under this program, but it is likely to designate persons soon and to issue regulations to implement the EO. These persons will be added to the List of Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons (SDN). Pursuant to the EO, U.S. persons will be prohibited from making or receiving any contributions or providing funds, goods, or services for the benefit of any blocked person. Transactions that attempt to evade or violate these restrictions are prohibited. Contracts entered into, or licenses or permits granted, prior to the date of the order are not exempt from the new sanctions. As with other OFAC sanctions programs, transactions with entities that are 50% or more owned by a blocked person or persons will also be prohibited.

In a press release, Secretary of State Michael Pompeo stated that "The UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) has faced more violence and danger than any other peacekeeping mission in UN history." He said that the parties to the 2015 Agreement on Peace and Reconciliation in Mali have made little progress in implementing the accord and improving peace in the country. The White House issued a press release stating that "By taking this action, President Trump is ensuring all tools of national power are employed to promote resolution of the conflict in Mali and to hold accountable those persons who have committed acts of violence or engaged in other crimes that have prolonged the conflict, causing the Malian people undue suffering."

All U.S. companies and any financial institution that conducts business internationally, particularly any companies that do business in or with Mali, should thoroughly review their business activity and ensure compliance with these new sanctions. Companies should also update their compliance policies and procedures to reflect the latest changes. If you have any questions regarding the Mali sanctions program or how it may affect your business, please reach out to the contacts listed below.