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News: US Sanctions - Freeport Authority of Ventspils, Latvia

17 December 2019

On 9 December 2019 the US Treasury Department of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) announced the designation of several individuals and entities to the Specially Designated Nationals (SDN) sanctions list under Executive Order 13818 (EO 13818).

Under EO 13818, a former government official in Latvia and four companies owned or controlled by him were listed under the SDN list, which included Ventspils Freeport Authority.

Ventspils Freeport Authority is now blocked under the Executive Order and as a result, all property and interests in property that are in the United States or possession of US persons of the designated persons/entities and any entities owned 50% or more, directly or indirectly, by them are blocked (ie frozen).

The EO also applies to non-US entities through the imposition of sanctions against any person who is determined to have materially assisted or provided financial, material or technological support for, or goods or services in support of, among others, any person whose property and interests in property are blocked under the EO.

OFAC have also issued Global Magnitsky General License No 1 (GL1), which authorises certain transactions and activities that are ordinarily incident and necessary to the wind down activities involving Ventspils Freeport Authority until 12:01am Eastern Standard Time on 8 January 2020.

The club has been provided with the following update from our local correspondent, Pandi Balt (Ltd):

We hereby inform you that Ventspils Freeport Authorities have been included into the sanctions list of US Office of Foreign Assets Control.

Latvian Government has decided to take over management of the Ventspils port due to inclusion of the Ventspils Freeport Authorities to the sanctions list. The background of the sanctions is an activity of the Ventspils city Mayor, against who several criminal processes and trials were commenced in Latvia. He is one of the Board Members of the Ventspils Freeport Authorities but recently has announced his decision to resign.

Currently necessary amendments to legislative acts are in process of development. The government also is in a process of negotiations with US Authorities regarding exclusion of the Ventspils Freeport Authorities from the sanctions list. According to the official information of the Latvian Financial and Capital Market Commission, currently bank accounts of the Ventspils Freeport Authorities are blocked. We expect that this situation will be solved soon and we recommend to the club’s members to wait while situation is solved prior to make any payment to the Ventspils Freeport Authorities.

The club will continue to monitor the situation; however, we recommend that members contemplating calling at Venspils Freeport Authority closely monitor the website of the US Office of Foreign Asset Control and to contact the club’s managers and correspondent if they have any queries.

Further details are provided in the client alert attached on the right issued by US law firm Freehill, Hogan & Mahar LLP.​