On August 9, 2021, the White House issued a new Executive Order (EO), “Blocking Property of Additional Persons Contributing to the Situation in Belarus,” which expands existing U.S. sanctions against Belarus to target various sectors. The Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) also issued a host of new designations to the Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Entities (SDN) List pursuant to the EO targeting individuals and entities involved in the “violent crackdown” on protestors following the August 2020 Belarusian elections. OFAC also issued General License 4, authorizing wind-down activities related to Belaruskali OAO, as well as frequently asked questions (FAQs) 916, 917 and 918 providing some detail on the GL and the scope of the new EO.
Previously, the Belarus Sanctions Regulations, 31 C.F.R. Part 548 (BSR), were based on Executive Order 13405 (June 19, 2016), which targeted persons and entities owned or controlled by, or materially assisting, such persons involved in undermining democratic processes, participating in human rights abuses and senior-level officials engaged in public corruption in Belarus. The new EO expands the scope of prior sanctions to also target persons involved, directly or indirectly, in:
- actions or policies that threaten the peace, security, stability, or territorial integrity of Belarus;
- actions or policies that prohibit, limit, or penalize the exercise of human rights and fundamental freedoms;
- electoral fraud or other actions or policies that undermined the electoral process;
- deceptive or structured transactions or dealings to circumvent any United States sanctions by or for or on behalf of, or for the benefit of, directly or indirectly, the government of Belarus or entities on the SDN List; or
- public corruption related to Belarus.
Importantly, the EO targets any persons determined to be:
- a leader, official, senior executive officer, or member of the board of directors of an entity engaged in those activities or blocked pursuant to Executive Order 13405;
- a political subdivision, agency, or instrumentality of the Belarus government;
- a leader or official of the Belarus government; or
- to operate or have operated in the defense and related materiel sector, security sector, energy sector, potassium chloride (potash) sector, tobacco products sector, construction sector, or transportation sector of the economy of Belarus.
The new designations to the SDN List target Alexander Lukashenko’s regime supporters, various Belarusian government departments as well as large government owned-entities, Belaruskali OAO, global producer of potassium chloride, and Grodno Tobacco Factory Neman. GL 4 authorizes certain activities related to Belaruskali OAO to provide U.S. persons 120 days to wind down transactions with Belaruskali, or any entity it owns by 50% or more.