Frequently Asked Questions

No, provided that the provision of services is not an indirect export to a person located in the Russian Federation.  For the purposes of these determinations, OFAC interprets the “indirect” provision of the prohibited services to include when the benefit of the services is ultimately received by a “person located in the Russian Federation.”

In contrast, OFAC would not consider to be prohibited the provision of services to a non-Russian company that has a physical presence and operations outside of the Russian Federation, including such a company owned or controlled by persons located in the Russian Federation, provided that the services will not be further exported or reexported to persons located in the Russian Federation.

For example, the following scenarios describe services that would be prohibited under the determination:

  • A U.S. corporate service provider administers a trust established under the laws of a U.S. state, where the trust exists to hold, sell, or purchase assets on behalf of a settlor, trustor, or beneficiary who is an individual ordinarily resident in Russia. 
  • A U.S. corporate service provider registers a limited liability company in a third country on behalf of an individual ordinarily resident in Russia for the purpose of holding real estate assets, and this company has no other physical presence or operations in the third country. 

The following scenarios illustrate services to a non-Russian subsidiary of a Russian person that would not be prohibited under the determination:

  • A U.S. accounting firm provides tax advisory and preparation services to the U.S. subsidiary of a Russian company.  This U.S. subsidiary has an office and employees in the United States and conducts business in the United States, and the services will not be exported or reexported to the Russian parent company.
  • A U.S. management consulting firm provides strategic business advice to the subsidiary of a Russian company located in a third country.  This subsidiary has an office and employees in the third country and conducts business in this third country, and the services will not be reexported to the Russian parent company.

Date Updated: January 17, 2023 

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No, provided that (i) such funds are not specifically intended for new projects or operations in the Russian Federation and (ii) the entity located outside the Russian Federation derives less than 50 percent of its revenues from its investments in the Russian Federation.  

For the purposes of assessing the foregoing, U.S. persons, including U.S. financial institutions, may reasonably rely upon the information available to them in the ordinary course of business, including publicly available information such as an entity’s most recent quarterly or annual report.  For the purposes of determining the percentage of revenues derived from investments in the Russian Federation, revenues derived from the commercial sale of goods or services by an entity located outside of the Russian Federation to persons in the Russian Federation should not be included.  This approach is consistent with the guidance provided by the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) in FAQ 1049, which clarifies that OFAC does not consider the commercial sale of goods or services to persons in the Russian Federation by an entity located outside the Russian Federation to be new investment in the Russian Federation for purposes of the respective E.O. prohibitions. 

Unless exempt or otherwise authorized by OFAC, examples of transactions that OFAC considers to be “new investment” for the purposes of the respective E.O. prohibitions include:

  • The lending of funds to a special purpose vehicle established outside of the Russian Federation by a Russian entity for the purpose of raising funds intended to support new or expanded physical operations in the Russian Federation. 
  • The purchase (including on the secondary markets) of a debt or equity interest in an entity located outside of the Russian Federation that derives 50 percent or more of its revenues from its ownership of a subsidiary located in the Russian Federation (e.g., through dividends paid up by the Russian subsidiary to the non-Russian parent company).  
  • The purchase (including on the secondary markets) of a debt or equity interest in an entity located outside of the Russian Federation that derives 50 percent or more of its revenues from its ownership of real estate, a mine, or other physical property located in the Russian Federation. 

OFAC notes, however, the new investment prohibitions of the respective E.O.s do not prohibit U.S. persons from selling or divesting debt or equity securities issued by such entities to a non-U.S. person.  Moreover, U.S. financial institutions may clear and settle, or otherwise serve as market intermediaries in, such divestment transactions on the secondary market — including transactions between non-U.S. persons.  For the purposes of assessing whether certain purchases of debt or equity of an entity are permissible, U.S. financial institutions, including securities exchanges and other market intermediaries and participants, may reasonably rely upon the information available to them in the ordinary course of business.  

Examples of transactions that OFAC does not consider to be “new investment” for the purposes of the respective E.O. prohibitions include:

  • The purchase (including on the secondary markets) of a debt or equity interest in an entity located outside of the Russian Federation provided that the entity derives less than 50 percent of its revenues from its ownership of a subsidiary or physical operation located in the Russian Federation. 
  • The purchase (including on the secondary markets) of a debt or equity interest in an entity located outside of the Russian Federation whose revenue is exclusively derived from the commercial sale of goods or services to persons located in the Russian Federation.
  • Activities that would be considered “maintenance” pursuant to FAQ 1050.  

Date Updated: January 17, 2023

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Yes, the respective E.O.s prohibit U.S. persons from purchasing both new and existing debt and equity securities issued by an entity in the Russian Federation.  However, the new investment prohibitions of the respective E.O.s do not prohibit U.S. persons from selling or divesting debt or equity securities issued by an entity in the Russian Federation to a non-U.S. person (see FAQ 1049), including purchases of such debt or equity securities if ordinarily incident and necessary to the divestment or transfer of the debt or equity securities to a non-U.S. person.  U.S. financial institutions may clear and settle, or otherwise serve as market intermediaries in, divestment transactions on the secondary market—including transactions between non-U.S. persons.  

Please note that U.S. persons are not required to divest such securities and may continue to hold such previously acquired securities.  Moreover, the conversion of depositary receipts to underlying local shares of non-sanctioned Russian issuers would not be considered a prohibited “new investment” in the Russian Federation under the respective E.O.s.  

Additionally, the purchase of shares in a U.S. fund would not be considered a prohibited “new investment” under the respective E.O.s, unless the fund’s holdings of debt or equity securities issued by entities in the Russian Federation represent a 50 percent or more share by value of the fund.  Generally, the fund may also divest itself of these prohibited holdings.   

Date Updated: January 17, 2023

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Unless otherwise authorized, U.S. persons may not buy or sell debt or equity of the Russian financial institutions blocked pursuant to Executive Order (E.O.) 14024.  Accordingly, a U.S. fund may not buy, sell, or otherwise engage in transactions related to debt or equity of such blocked Russian financial institutions, and must block such holdings, unless exempt or otherwise authorized by the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC).  A U.S. fund that contains such blocked holdings generally is not itself considered a blocked entity unless such blocked holdings represent a 50 percent or more share by value of the fund.  If such blocked holdings do not represent a 50 percent or more share by value of the fund, U.S. persons may continue to invest in it, and the fund is not considered blocked.  The fund may divest itself of blocked holdings to the extent authorized by OFAC.

Date Updated: January 17, 2023

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The President issued Executive Order (E.O.) 13835 on May 21, 2018.  Subsection 1(a)(iii) of E.O. 13835 prohibits U.S. persons from engaging in transactions related to the sale, transfer, assignment, or pledging as collateral by the Government of Venezuela (GOV) of any equity interest in an entity owned 50 percent or more by the GOV.  One effect of subsection 1(a)(iii) is to require authorization before U.S. persons may engage in certain transactions regarding any equity interest in an entity owned 50 percent or more by the GOV.  Subsequent to the issuance of E.O. 13835, OFAC received inquiries about how and whether subsection 1(a)(iii) of E.O. 13835 could affect the ability to enforce bondholder rights to the CITGO shares serving as collateral for the Petróleos de Venezuela, S.A. (PdVSA) 2020 8.5 percent bond.  OFAC issued General License (GL) 5 on July 19, 2018, which removed E.O. 13835 as an obstacle to holders of the PdVSA 2020 8.5 percent bond gaining access to their collateral.

General License 5 was replaced and superseded by General License 5A on October 24, 2019 with a delay in the effectiveness of the authorization in the general license.  Since that date, OFAC has extended the delay in effectiveness a number of times.  Most recently, OFAC issued General License 5J on January 17, 2023, which further delays the effectiveness of the authorization in GL 5 until April 20, 2023.  Between October 24, 2019 and April 20, 2023 (the date the authorization in General License 5J becomes effective), there is no authorization in effect that licenses against subsection 1(a)(iii) of E.O. 13835 applicable to the holders of the PdVSA 2020 8.5 percent bond.  As a result, during such period, transactions related to the sale or transfer of CITGO shares in connection with the PdVSA 2020 8.5 percent bond are prohibited, unless specifically authorized by OFAC.

To the extent an agreement may be reached on proposals to restructure or refinance payments due to the holders of the PdVSA 2020 8.5 percent bond, additional licensing requirements may apply.  OFAC would encourage parties to apply for a specific license and would have a favorable licensing policy toward such an agreement. 

Date Updated: January 17, 2023

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