Treasury Issues Venezuela General License 41 Upon Resumption of Mexico City Talks

WASHINGTON — On November 26th, the Unitary Platform and the Maduro regime announced the resumption of talks in Mexico City; a humanitarian agreement focused on education, health, food security, flood response, and electricity programs that will benefit the Venezuelan people; and agreement on the continuation of talks focused on the 2024 elections. Following this announcement and consistent with U.S. government policy, the Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) issued Venezuela General License (GL) 41, authorizing Chevron Corporation to resume limited natural resource extraction operations in Venezuela. This action reflects longstanding U.S. policy to provide targeted sanctions relief based on concrete steps that alleviate the suffering of the Venezuelan people and support the restoration of democracy.

This authorization prevents PdVSA from receiving profits from the oil sales by Chevron. GL 41 authorizes activity related to Chevron’s joint ventures in Venezuela only, and does not authorize other activity with PdVSA. Other Venezuela-related sanctions and restrictions imposed by the United States remain in place; the United States will vigorously enforce these sanctions and will continue to hold accountable any actor that engages in corruption, violates U.S. laws, or abuses human rights in Venezuela. 

GL 41 authorizes transactions ordinarily incident and necessary to certain activities related to the operation and management by Chevron Corporation or its subsidiaries of its joint ventures involving blocked Venezuelan state-owned oil company Petroleos de Venezuela, S.A. (PdVSA) or any entity in which PdVSA owns, directly or indirectly, a 50 percent or greater interest.

The announcements by the Unitary Platform and the Maduro regime are important steps in the right direction to restore democracy in the country. The United States welcomes and supports the reopening of negotiations between the Unitary Platform and the Maduro regime, as part of our longstanding policy to support the peaceful restoration of democracy, free and fair elections, and respect for the rights and freedoms of Venezuelans.

Concurrent with the issuance of Venezuela GL 41, OFAC also issued public guidance indicating that U.S. persons are authorized to provide goods and services for certain activities as specified in GL 41 and that non-U.S. persons generally do not risk U.S. sanctions exposure for facilitating transactions that are authorized by GL 41. In light of Venezuela GL 41, OFAC also extended Venezuela GL 8K and removed Chevron from that license.

Read Venezuela General License 41 and Venezuela General License 8K.

###

TSX Delisting Review – Aleafia Health Inc. (AH)

TMX Group Limited and its affiliates do not endorse or recommend any securities issued by any companies identified on, or linked through, this site. Please seek professional advice to evaluate specific securities or other content on this site. All content (including any links to third party sites) is provided for informational purposes only (and not for trading purposes), and is not intended to provide legal, accounting, tax, investment, financial or other advice and should not be relied upon for such advice. The views, opinions and advice of any third party reflect those of the individual authors and are not endorsed by TMX Group Limited or its affiliates. TMX Group Limited and its affiliates have not prepared, reviewed or updated the content of third parties on this site or the content of any third party sites, and assume no responsibility for such information.

Copyright © 2022 TSX Inc. All rights reserved.

Acting Comptroller of the Currency Issues Statement on Large Bank Resolution Plans

WASHINGTON—Acting Comptroller of the Currency Michael J. Hsu, in his capacity as a Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) board member, today released the following statement on the FDIC’s review of the eight largest and most complex domestic banking organizations’ 2021 resolution plans.

The collaborative review of the plans by the FDIC and Federal Reserve Board identified areas in which each of the firms should continue to improve its capabilities to facilitate a rapid and orderly resolution. The agencies’ shortcoming determination with regards to Citigroup is consistent with the OCC’s supervisory cease and desist order issued against Citibank, N.A., in October 2020 to require the bank to take broad and comprehensive corrective actions to improve risk management, data governance, and internal controls.

Resolvability is about capabilities, not just passing a paper test. The agencies’ determination regarding Citigroup reflects and reinforces this.

The next Title I review will constitute the first full plan review under the elongated review cycle, which was adopted in 2019. A lot has changed in the intervening period. I will be particularly focused on assessments of firms’ legal entity rationalization and separability capabilities.

Related Links

READOUT: Deputy Secretary Adeyemo Roundtable with Labor Leaders on the Inflation Reduction Act

LOS ANGELES, CA – U.S. Deputy Secretary of the Treasury Wally Adeyemo participated in a roundtable discussion with labor leaders yesterday to discuss Treasury’s implementation of the strong worker provisions included in the Inflation Reduction Act and ways to help ensure workers benefit from the gains created by the transition to a clean energy economy. The roundtable was hosted by the Los Angeles/Orange Counties Building and Construction Trades Council and included leaders from IBEW, Ironworkers, Laborers, Plumbers, Roofers and Waterproofers, and Boilermakers unions.

The roundtable is part of a series of discussions the Treasury Department has been hosting as it solicits input from the public to inform its work implementing the Inflation Reduction Act. Nearly three quarters of the bill’s $369 billion climate change investment – $270 billion – is delivered via tax incentives, putting Treasury at the forefront of this landmark law.

In the meeting with labor leaders, Deputy Secretary Adeyemo discussed how the Inflation Reduction Act will help ensure that workers benefit from the clean energy economy they’re helping build, including through apprenticeship rules that will help expand the union labor force and prevailing wage rules that will help ensure workers receive fair pay.

Since the Inflation Reduction Act was signed into law in August, the Treasury Department has engaged a broad spectrum of labor unions, industry representatives, and other stakeholders to help inform its implementation of the law. It is reviewing thousands of public comments on these provisions and has hosted a series of roundtable discussions with key stakeholder groups representing millions of workers, thousands of companies, and trillions of dollars in investment assets, as well as climate and environmental justice advocates, community-based organizations, and other key actors that are critical to the success of the Inflation Reduction Act.

For more information on Treasury’s stakeholder engagement around the Inflation Reduction Act climate and clean energy provisions, please see:

August 16, 2022: Treasury Releases Initial Information on Electric Vehicle Tax Credit Under Newly Enacted Inflation Reduction Act

October 5, 2022: Treasury Seeks Public Input on Implementing the Inflation Reduction Act’s Clean Energy Tax Incentives

FACT SHEET: Treasury, IRS Open Public Comment on Implementing the Inflation Reduction Act’s Clean Energy Tax Incentives

October 26, 2022: READOUT: Stakeholder Roundtable on Clean Power Generation and the Inflation Reduction Act

October 27, 2022: READOUT: Stakeholder Roundtable on Climate Impact, Equity, and the Inflation Reduction Act

FACT SHEET: Four ways the Inflation Reduction Act’s Tax Incentives Will Support Building an Equitable Clean Energy Economy

October 31, 2022: READOUT: Stakeholder Roundtable on Investor Perspectives on Climate Change, Clean Energy, and the Inflation Reduction Act

November 3, 2022: Treasury Seeks Public Input on Additional Clean Energy Tax Provisions of the Inflation Reduction Act

November 4, 2022: READOUT: Stakeholder Roundtable on Clean Vehicles and the Inflation Reduction Act

Treasury Sanctions Iranian Officials Connected to the Continued Protest Crackdown

WASHINGTON —Today, the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) is designating three Iranian security officials for the Iranian regime’s continued crackdown on ongoing protests throughout the country, including most recently in Kurdish areas. The Iranian regime has increased its aggressive actions against the Iranian people as part of its ongoing suppression of peaceful protests against a regime that denies human rights and fundamental freedoms to its people, especially women and girls.

“The Iranian regime is reportedly targeting and gunning down its own children, who have taken to the street to demand a better future,” said Under Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Brian E. Nelson. “The abuses being committed in Iran against protestors, including most recently in Mahabad, must stop.”

Today’s action is being taken pursuant to Executive Order (E.O.) 13553, which authorizes sanctions on persons who have committed serious human rights abuses involving Iran. The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and the Law Enforcement Forces of the Islamic Republic of Iran (LEF) were both designated pursuant to E.O. 13553 in 2011 for being responsible for or complicit in serious human rights abuses in Iran since the June 2009 disputed presidential election. Both the IRGC and LEF have reportedly stifled free speech in Iran through excessive use of force, extrajudicial killings, torture, denial of medical care, and enforced disappearances of unarmed protesters, including children. The individuals being sanctioned today have acted or purported to act for or on behalf of these previously designated entities.

Protests In Iran’s Kurdish Region

Since countrywide protests erupted after the killing of Mahsa Amini by Iran’s “morality police” in September 2022, the Kurdish cities in northwestern Iran, such as Sanandaj and Mahabad, have faced a particularly severe security response. Residents describe a lockdown of their cities by military forces, as well as severe disruptions to key city services, including internet, phone, and even impacts to the water supply. Protests have endured, despite the Iranian security services’ intimidation tactics. In the past few days, dozens of protesters have reportedly been killed in the Kurdish region alone.

Today’s action targets key city officials of Sanandaj: Hassan Asgari (Asgari), the governor of Sanandaj, and Alireza Moradi (Moradi), the commander of LEF forces in Sanandaj. Prior to entering his role as governor of Sanandaj, Asgari was the commander of IRGC forces in Sanandaj. Asgari’s transition from a military role to governor is an example of the systematic spread of military control over cities. Moradi, as commander of the LEF in Sanandaj, has led the crackdown on protests in the city. When a 16-year-old protestor was reportedly killed by security forces in Sanandaj, Asgari and other officials stated she died of a drug overdose, potentially by suicide. Providing false alternative causes of death for protesters killed by security forces is a common tactic utilized by Iranian officials to evade accountability for their human rights abuses.

Asgari is being designated pursuant to E.O. 13553 for having acted or purported to act for or on behalf of, directly or indirectly, the IRGC. Moradi is being designated pursuant to E.O. 13553 for having acted or purported to act for or on behalf of, directly or indirectly, the LEF.

Today’s action also targets Mohammad Taghi Osanloo (Osanloo), the IRGC Ground Forces commander that oversees Iran’s West Azerbaijan province which includes the city of Mahabad. This is considered one of the IRGC’s most important commands. In recent days, the IRGC has deployed additional forces to Kurdish cities in Iran, including Mahabad, in response to the ongoing protests.

Osanloo is being designated pursuant to E.O. 13553 for having acted or purported to act for or on behalf of, directly or indirectly, the IRGC.

SANCTIONS IMPLICATIONS

As a result of today’s action, all property and interests in property of these persons that are in the United States or in the possession or control of U.S. persons must be blocked and 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. OFAC regulations generally prohibit all dealings by U.S. persons or within the United States (including transactions transiting the United States) that involve any property or interests in property of blocked or designated persons.

In addition, persons that engage in certain transactions with the persons designated today may themselves be exposed to sanctions or subject to an enforcement action. Furthermore, unless an exception applies, any foreign financial institution that knowingly facilitates a significant transaction or provides significant financial services for any of the persons designated today could be subject to U.S. sanctions.

The power and integrity of OFAC sanctions derive not only from OFAC’s ability to designate and add persons to the Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons List (SDN List), but also from its willingness to remove persons from the SDN List consistent with the law. The ultimate goal of sanctions is not to punish, but to bring about a positive change in behavior. For information concerning the process for seeking removal from an OFAC list, including the SDN List, please refer to OFAC’s Frequently Asked Question 897.

Identifying information on the individuals designated today.

###

 

TSX Delisting Review – HempFusion Wellness Inc. (CBD.U, CBD.WT.U, CBD)

TMX Group Limited and its affiliates do not endorse or recommend any securities issued by any companies identified on, or linked through, this site. Please seek professional advice to evaluate specific securities or other content on this site. All content (including any links to third party sites) is provided for informational purposes only (and not for trading purposes), and is not intended to provide legal, accounting, tax, investment, financial or other advice and should not be relied upon for such advice. The views, opinions and advice of any third party reflect those of the individual authors and are not endorsed by TMX Group Limited or its affiliates. TMX Group Limited and its affiliates have not prepared, reviewed or updated the content of third parties on this site or the content of any third party sites, and assume no responsibility for such information.

Copyright © 2022 TSX Inc. All rights reserved.

Statement by Secretary of the Treasury Janet L. Yellen on the Disbursement of $4.5 billion in Direct Budget Support for Ukraine

WASHINGTON – Secretary of the Treasury Janet L. Yellen issued the following statement on the disbursement of $4.5 billion in direct budget support for Ukraine:

“Today, the United States continued to uphold its unwavering commitment to Ukraine with the mobilization of an additional $4.5 billion in grants for direct budget support.  These funds will begin disbursing in the coming weeks and help the Government of Ukraine defend against Russia’s illegal war by bolstering economic stability and supporting core government services, including wages for hospital workers, government employees, and teachers as well as social assistance for the elderly and vulnerable. Combined with our security assistance and the immense bravery of the Ukrainian people, these funds are a critical tool in Ukraine’s resistance to Putin’s unprovoked invasion.  These disbursements will bring total U.S. direct budget support to Ukraine to $13 billion, all in grants.  We encourage other donors to increase and accelerate their assistance to Ukraine.  In addition to providing economic support, the Treasury Department and U.S. government will continue to use all of our tools, including our historic sanctions coalition, to weaken Putin’s war machine.”

Readout of Fund for the Afghan People Board Meeting

The Board of Trustees of the Fund for the Afghan People (Afghan Fund) met for the first time today in Geneva, Switzerland.  The Board took steps to further operationalize the Afghan Fund, including agreeing to the principle of initial Afghan co-chairmanship and to the establishment of an Afghan Advisory Committee.  The Board also agreed to make prudent investments to protect the Fund’s assets, to further define potential disbursements, and to initiate a recruitment process for an Executive Secretary.

Robust safeguards have been put in place to prevent the funds from being used for illicit activity.  Today, the Board of Trustees agreed on additional steps to continue to safeguard the Fund’s assets for Afghanistan’s people, including hiring an external auditor to conduct annual audits, and developing compliance controls and foundational corporate governance documents.

The United States, through the Department of the Treasury and the Department of State, and in coordination with international partners including the government of Switzerland and Afghan economic experts, announced the Fund on September 14 to support the people of Afghanistan amid ongoing economic and humanitarian crises.  The Afghan Fund will protect, preserve, and make targeted disbursements of its $3.5 billion in assets to help provide greater stability to the Afghan economy to benefit the people of Afghanistan.  

 

Statement by Secretary of the Treasury Janet L. Yellen on Election of the President of the Inter-American Development Bank

On behalf of the United States, I wish to extend my congratulations to Ilan Goldfajn on his election as President of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB). 
 
The IDB plays a vital role in advancing the economic, social and environmental well-being of Latin America and the Caribbean.  The United States looks forward to working with President Goldfajn to implement the set of reforms shareholders have laid out to bolster sustainable, inclusive, resilient development; private sector-led growth; climate ambition; and enhance the IDB’s institutional effectiveness.  
 
I would also like to convey my deep appreciation to the IDB’s talented and dedicated staff for their tireless commitment to continue delivering for the diverse needs of the region through this uncertain period.  
 
The United States stands by the entire IDB Group as the premier development finance institution serving the region.  We are counting on President Goldfajn to lead this organization to be an engine of change and progress for our neighbors across Latin America and the Caribbean.
 

Remarks by Assistant Secretary Elizabeth Rosenberg at the Crypto Council for Innovation

As prepared for delivery

Thank you to the Crypto Council for Innovation for hosting me and bringing together representatives from across industry today. My name is Elizabeth Rosenberg and I’m the Assistant Secretary for Terrorist Financing and Financial Crimes at the U.S. Treasury.

In mid-September and pursuant to President Biden’s Executive Order on Digital Assets, Treasury published an Action Plan to Mitigate the Illicit Finance Risks of Digital Assets – a roadmap for how the U.S. government, led by the Treasury Department, will bring greater transparency to the digital asset sector. The report identifies seven priority actions, including improving global anti-money laundering/countering the financing of terrorism (AML/CFT) regulation and enforcement, strengthening U.S. supervision of the virtual asset service providers sector, and engaging with the private sector.

Collaborative work both with the private sector, and between private sector entities, is critical for detecting and countering illicit finance. To deepen our insight and engagement with industry, in mid-September, we released a Request for Comment, seeking feedback on the Action Plan, our assessment of illicit financing risks, and opportunities to strengthen public-private collaboration.

The comment period ended on November 3 and I want to thank industry for the all the submissions.

While we continue to review the comment letters in detail, I wanted to highlight two specific issues addressed in the comment letters: a need for regulatory clarity and more public-private engagement. Many of the comments acknowledged that in the United States, virtual asset service providers are subject to a regulatory framework for AML/CFT and have sanctions obligations. With this in mind, industry commenters identified specific areas, such as questions around decentralized finance (DeFi), where they could benefit from additional regulatory clarity or guidance. As a matter of policy, we want to ensure that industry has a clear understanding of AML/CFT and sanctions obligations. Therefore, we will be reviewing the specific issues industry identified in the comments and explore how, whether through regulation, guidance, or outreach, we can best address industry questions and uncertainty.

Second, we received thoughtful feedback on opportunities to expand and formalize our engagements with the virtual assets industry. I recognize that industry has unique insight into illicit finance threats. Stronger two-way dialogue can also strengthen the U.S. government’s understanding of technological innovations and changes, as well as create greater opportunities for industry to identify areas where these innovations may result in regulatory uncertainty. 

I am here today, as part of that larger effort, to build direct relationships with industry, solicit further feedback, and learn about developments in the virtual asset ecosystem. To that end, I want to take a moment to discuss some of the policy questions surrounding our approach to mixers following Treasury’s designations of Blender and Tornado Cash.  We recognize that, in some instances, virtual assets may provide more insight into financial activities by virtue of public blockchains, which can be used to support AML/CFT compliance.  Still, I understand that some virtual asset users may want to preserve their privacy when conducting transactions.

As was clearly stated in President Biden’s Executive Order, we want to ensure that safeguards are in place to promote the responsible development of virtual assets to maintain privacy and shield against arbitrary or unlawful surveillance. The challenge is that mixers, as currently operating, provide anonymity, a way for illicit actors to obfuscate the movement and the origin or destination of funds, while reducing law enforcement’s visibility into these transfers. The challenge is that while these services often operate as money transmitters and thus have regulatory reporting obligations, they may deliberately operate in a non‑compliant manner to make it more difficult for regulators and law enforcement to trace illicit funds.

Illicit actors are capitalizing on these vulnerabilities. The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s (DPRK) Lazarus Group uses mixers to launder proceeds of virtual currency heists.  Illicit actors also use mixers to launder proceeds of ransomware, drug trafficking, and other criminal activities. We are concerned that mixers are being abused for illicit purposes and we are therefore compelled to take action to address this risk. In the case of Blender and Tornado Cash, the Lazarus Group used mixers to obfuscate the source of funds derived from a March 2022 cyber heist.  In addition, malicious cyber actors’ used the service provided by Tornado Cash to launder more than $96 million of funds derived from the June 24, 2022 Harmony Bridge Heist, and at least $7.8 million from the August 2, 2022 Nomad Heist.

The Treasury Department cannot allow such egregious activity to occur. Illicit actors are abusing mixers to launder funds. It is our goal to be clear about obligations, but we need industry to take clear steps, in line with AML regulations and sanctions obligations, to prevent illicit actors from abusing this activity. Our goal and intention is not to deter the development of technologies that provide privacy for virtual asset transfers. We welcome opportunities to further engage with industry on how these technologies can both promote privacy while also mitigating illicit finance risks and complying with regulatory and sanctions obligations.

Before I turn the discussion over to all of you, I want to thank you all for making time to speak with me today and sharing your insights. I welcome feedback and hope that we can use our time to identify how we all, government and industry, can further collaborate to promote transparency and integrity in the virtual asset ecosystem.