On May 21, 2018, the President signed a new Executive Order (the “Order”) related to Venezuela entitled “Prohibiting Certain Additional Transactions with Respect to Venezuela.” According to a statement from the White House, this action is intended to “prevent the Maduro regime from … liquidating Venezuela’s critical assets.” These new US financial sanctions were imposed after Venezuela held elections this past weekend that were described as “fraudulent” in a press statement from the US State Department. Please see our prior blog posts concerning the previous Venezuela-related Executive Orders: (i) Executive Order 13827 of March 19, 2018 here, (ii) Executive Order 13808 of August 24, 2017 here, and (iii) Executive Order 13692 of March 8, 2015 here.

The Order prohibits US Persons (i.e., entities organized under US laws and their non-US branches; individuals and entities physically located in the United States; and US citizens and permanent resident aliens, wherever located or employed) from engaging in transactions related to, the provision of financing for, and other dealings in:

  1. The purchase of any debt owed to the Government of Venezuela (“GOV”), including accounts receivable;
  2. Any debt owed to the GOV that is pledged as collateral after the effective date of the Order (i.e., May 21, 2018), including accounts receivable; and
  3. The sale, transfer, assignment, or pledging as collateral by the GOV of any equity interest in any entity in which the GOV has a 50% or greater ownership interest.

As with previous Venezuela-related Executive Orders, the “Government of Venezuela” is defined to include the GOV; any political subdivision, agency, or instrumentality thereof, including the Central Bank of Venezuela and Petroleos de Venezuela, S.A.; and any person owned/controlled by or acting for or on behalf of the GOV.

The US Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (“OFAC”) has not, as of the writing of this blog, issued a press release with additional information or FAQs with guidance about the Order, as it has done with past Venezuela-related Executive Orders. OFAC has also not issued or updated existing Venezuela-related general licenses with respect to the Order. Based on its language, the Order is focused on prohibiting US Persons from being involved in the collateralization of certain GOV financial assets (e.g., accounts receivable; equity in state owned/controlled entities) and sales of GOV interests in state owned/controlled entities.