On December 10, 2021, the Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) sanctioned 15 individuals and 10 entities in several countries for their connection to human rights abuse and repression. In addition, OFAC imposed investment restrictions on one Chinese company in connection with the surveillance technology sector
In China, OFAC has placed on the Specially Designated Nationals (SDN) List: (i) Shohrat Zakir, who served as the Chairman of the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of China (XUAR) from at least 2018 until 2021; and (ii) Erken Tuniyaz, who currently serves as the acting Chairman of the XUAR. OFAC states that during their tenures, “more than one million Uyghurs and members of other predominantly Muslim ethnic minority groups have been detained in Xinjiang. The Department of State has also placed visa restrictions on these two individuals.”
OFAC also identified Chinese company SenseTime Group Limited (SenseTime), as a Non-SDN Chinese Military-Industrial Complex Company (CMIC). According to OFAC, this company owns or controls, directly or indirectly, Shenzhen Sensetime Technology Co. Ltd., “which has developed facial recognition programs that can determine a target’s ethnicity, with a particular focus on identifying ethnic Uyghurs. When applying for patent applications, Shenzhen SenseTime Technology Co. Ltd. has highlighted its ability to identify Uyghurs wearing beards, sunglasses, and masks.”
OFAC has also sanctioned the Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) in Bangladesh and certain of its officers who OFAC indicated are responsible for more than 600 disappearances since 2009, nearly 600 extrajudicial killings since 2018, and torture. In addition, several North Korean-related entities and individuals have been placed on the SDN List for generating revenue in foreign countries that could have been used to support North Korea’s weapons of mass production programs. And, finally, OFAC has designated several state agencies and their officers in Burma (Myanmar) for the military regime’s ongoing attacks on democracy and brutal repression.
The full list of these SDN List designations is available here. All property and interests in property of the SDNs that are in the United States or in the possession or control of U.S. persons are blocked and must be reported to OFAC. In addition, any entities that are owned, directly or indirectly, 50 percent or more by one or more blocked persons are also blocked. Unless authorized by a license or exemption, all transactions by U.S. persons or within the United States that involve blocked persons or their property are prohibited.
The CMIC identification of SenseTime Group Limited prohibits the purchase or sale by U.S. persons of any publicly traded securities of such CMIC entity, or any derivative of such securities. For additional background on CMIC listings, see Update of June 9, 2021.