Venezuela Defense of Human Rights and Civil Society Act of 2014

The Venezuela Defense of Human Rights and Civil Society Act of 2014 (S. 2142) was passed in Congress due to human and civil right violations against anti-government protestors. The law is now used to impose sanctions on individuals in Venezuela that have allegedly participated in acts of violence and human rights violations. The Bill authorizes the President to impose US block property and sanction any person, particularly current or former government officials, Venezuelan government officials, or people acting on behalf of the government.

The underlying US Policy behind the passage of this bill was to support the people of Venezuela to live in peace under a representative democracy and to ensure a peaceful resolution of the political instability and violence in Venezuela. The US government wants to hold government officials in Venezuela responsible for the crackdown on protests and to support democratic political processes in Venezuela. For more information on the Venezuela Defense of Human Rights and Civil Society Act of 2014, contact a skilled sanctions lawyer.

Imposition of Sanctions

On March 9, 2015, Exec. Order No. 13692, “Blocking Property and Suspending Entry of Certain Persons Contributing to the Situation in Venezuela”, was signed by President Obama. The Executive Order imposed sanctions on seven designated individuals.

Certain sanctions on anyone responsible, directly or indirectly, for any action that undermines democratic processes or institutions, any significant acts of violence or violation of human rights, actions that prohibit or infringe on the freedom of expression or peaceful assembly, and acts of public corruption by senior officials in the Government of Venezuela.

The order also authorized sanctions on persons, current or former officials in the Government of Venezuela, anyone who has materially assisted, provided financial and technological support, goods or services in support of a person whose property was blocked pursuant to the Executive Order. The Executive Order imposed sanctions on seven individuals who were all connected to either the Venezuelan Judicial System, military, or intelligence agencies.

Regulations Against Venezuela

The codified sanctioned regulations against Venezuela include a few noteworthy provisions. One is the prohibition against holding of funds in interest-bearing accounts, investments, and re-investment, and states that any US person holding funds such as currency, bank deposits, or liquidated financial obligations, shall hold or place such funds in a blocked interest-bearing account located in the United States.

The expenses of maintaining a blocked property or the liquidation of blocked property, are governed by 31 CFR 591.204 which states that all expenses incident to the maintenance of physical property shall be the responsibility of the owners or operators of such property and which expenses shall not be met from blocked funds.

Likelihood of Liquidation

In the discretion of OFAC, the property may be sold or liquidated and the net proceeds placed in a blocked interest-bearing account in the name of the owner of the property. The regulation also includes provisions that authorize certain legal services on behalf of those whose properties and interests are blocked pursuant to the Venezuela Sanctions Regulations and Executive Order 13692.

This includes receipt of payment for professional fees and reimbursement of incurred expenses, but they must be specifically licensed or otherwise generally licensed pursuant to 31 CFR 591.507. This also includes the provision of legal advice and counseling on the requirements and compliance of the laws in the United States or any jurisdiction within the United States, so long as they are not provided to facilitate transactions in violation of the Venezuelan Sanctions Regulations.