OFAC Authorizes Payments to Venezuela's Maritime Authority After Recent SDN Listing
The U.S. Department of the Treasury Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) might have left many vessel operators wondering how to avoid an economic sanctions violation when OFAC added Venezuela's maritime authority, Instituto Nacional de los Espacios Acuáticos (INEA), to the Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons (SDN) List on Jan. 19, 2021, under Executive Order (EO) 13850. While the designation appeared to be addressing U.S. concerns of corruption in Venezuela's gold, oil and finance industries, as well as other sectors of its economy, it had a direct effect on any vessel calling on a Venezuelan port, as INEA is the national government body administering port fees and other port activities.
To address this side effect of the INEA designation, which would have precluded shipments of food, agricultural commodities, medicines and other supplies critical for the benefit of the people of Venezuela, on Feb. 2, 2021, OFAC issued General License (GL) No. 30A, authorizing activities that are "ordinarily incident and necessary to operations or use of ports or airports in Venezuela." The authorization brings relief to the shipping industry after INEA's listing on OFAC's SDN List.1 Vessel operators and charterers are therefore allowed to pay INEA local port fees.
GL No. 30A replaces and expands the scope of OFAC's GL No. 30, which authorized only certain payments to the government of Venezuela that were prohibited under EO 13884. (Similar restrictions were included in OFAC's GL No. 35 issued under EO 13884 and allowing payment of import duties and taxes to the government of Venezuela only with respect to transactions prohibited under EO 13884.) GL No. 30A now applies to ministerial transactions with the government of Venezuela that are otherwise prohibited under either EO 13884 or EO 13850, including standard port fees to INEA. GL No. 30A also applies to any entity in which INEA owns, directly or indirectly, a 50 percent or greater interest in connection with the operations of the ports and airports in Venezuela.
For additional information or questions regarding this rule or any other trade-related matters, please contact the authors or another member of Holland & Knight's International Trade Group.
1 See "Issuance of Counter Terrorism General Licenses and related FAQs; Counter Terrorism Designations; Venezuela-related Designations; CAATSA – Russia-related Designations; Yemen-related Designations Updates," U.S. Department of the Treasury (Jan. 19, 2021).