In December 2021, the Office of Foreign Assets Control (“OFAC”) of the US Department of the Treasury issued four general licenses (“GL”) (GL 16, 17, 18 and 19), published seven new frequently asked questions (“ FAQs ”) (FAQ 949, 950, 951, 952, 953, 954 and 955), and modified three FAQs (FAQs 929, 930 and 931), which mainly deal with authorized humanitarian activities related to Afghanistan. OFAC has also published a fact sheet titled “Providing Humanitarian Assistance to Afghanistan and Support to the Afghan People” to provide additional guidance on the scope of US sanctions and the humanitarian activities permitted in relation to it. with Afghanistan The key points are summarized below.
GL 16 (Autorizing Noncommercial, Personal Remittances to Afghanistan) authorizes US nationals to conduct transactions that are ordinarily incidental and necessary to the transfer of non-commercial personal funds, including through Afghan depositories. FAQ 949 specifies that GL 16 does not not authorize any debit to a blocked account of the Taliban or the Haqqani Network, or any entity in which the Taliban or the Haqqani Network has, directly or indirectly, individually or collectively, a 50 percent or more interest in the books of a US Financial Institution. FAQ 949 further clarifies that GL 16 does not not authorize financial transfers to the Taliban, the Haqqani network or any entity owned, directly or indirectly, individually or collectively, or an interest of 50% or more, by either group.
GL 18 (Authorization of official activities of certain international organizations and other international entities) authorizes all transactions that are intended for the conduct of official activities by employees, beneficiaries or subcontractors of certain international organizations. FAQ 950 provides this United Nations organization chart, which includes the parts covered by GL 18.
GL 19 (Allow certain transactions in support of the activities of non-governmental organizations in Afghanistan) authorizes, among other things, activities in support of humanitarian projects to meet basic human needs in Afghanistan and activities in support of non-governmental development projects. business directly benefiting the Afghan people, subject to conditions. Based on FAQ 954, fuel purchases, payment for telecommunications services, payment for security services, payment of rent and payment of utilities, among others, could fall under GL 19 (in addition to GL 14 or 15) provided that they are ordinarily incidental and necessary to carry out the activities authorized by the LG.
FAQ 951 confirms that Afghanistan is not subject to comprehensive sanctions and there is no ban on exporting or re-exporting goods or services to Afghanistan, moving or sending money to and from Afghanistan, or from ” conduct business in Afghanistan, provided that such transactions or activities do not involve sanctioned individuals, entities, or property in which sanctioned individuals and entities have an interest.
FAQ 929, 930, and 931 have been amended to extend their scope to now include transactions authorized under GL 16 to 19 (in addition to those previously authorized under GL 14 and 15). Our previous blog post on the GL 14 and 15 can be viewed here. These amended FAQs confirm that non-U.S. Persons can conduct or facilitate transactions authorized for U.S. persons under the aforementioned GLs without risking exposure to secondary sanctions.