POTUS Lifts Sanctions on the Ivory Coast and Provides Highly Unusual Preview of Upcoming Burmese Sanctions Removal
Earlier today, President Obama issued an Executive Order lifting sanctions against Côte d’Ivoire (the Ivory Coast). This removal follows similar action by the United Nations, which in April 2016 lifted international arms, travel and financial measures though UN Security Council Resolution 2283.
U.S. individuals and companies that may have violated the Ivory Coast-related sanctions are not absolved from their apparent violations. The U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) will continue to investigate and penalize prohibited dealings, even years after the underlying sanctions authority is lifted. For example, in March 2015 OFAC announced a $780,000 settlement to resolve apparent violations of the former Iraq sanctions program that occurred between 2002 and 2003. President Bush lifted the former Iraq sanctions program through a 2004 Executive Order, while the OFAC removed the regulations in September 2010.
Coming Sanctions Relief for Burma
President Obama also announced today “that the United States is now prepared to lift sanctions we’ve imposed upon Burma.” Current U.S. sanctions prohibit the importation of Burmese rubies and jadeite, certain new investment, and dealings with designated individuals and entities. These prohibitions will continue until their removal by Executive Order. OFAC issued an FAQ today to clarify this point. The President’s comments did not specify if all sanctions will be removed.
As of today, the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) continues to classify Burma as a “primary money laundering concern” pursuant to Section 311 of the USA PATRIOT Act. As noted in a previous entry, this designation discourages U.S.-Burma financial ties because of the required enhanced due diligence procedures to combat money laundering under the Bank Secrecy Act. See, 31 C.F.R. §1010.610(b).