In December 2021, the US Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (“OFAC”) issued four General Licenses (“GLs”) (GLs 16, 17, 18, and 19), published seven new Frequently Asked Questions (“FAQs”) (FAQs 949, 950, 951, 952, 953, 954, and 955), and amended three FAQs (FAQs 929, 930, and 931), which address primarily authorized humanitarian activities related to Afghanistan OFAC also issued a Fact Sheet titled “Provision of Humanitarian Assistance to Afghanistan and Support for the Afghan People” to provide further guidance on the scope of US sanctions and authorized humanitarian activities in relation to Afghanistan. Key points are summarized below.
GL 16 (Authorizing Noncommercial, Personal Remittances to Afghanistan) authorizes US persons to engage in transactions that are ordinarily incident and necessary to the transfer of noncommercial, personal remittances, including through Afghan depository institutions. FAQ 949 clarifies that GL 16 does 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 owns, directly or indirectly, individually or in the aggregate, a 50 percent or greater interest, on the books of a US financial institution. FAQ 949 further clarifies that GL 16 does not authorize financial transfers to the Taliban, the Haqqani Network, or any entity owned, directly or indirectly, individually or in the aggregate, or a 50 percent or greater interest, by either group.
GL 18 (Authorizing Official Activities of Certain International Organizations and Other International Entities) authorizes all transactions that are for the conduct of official business by employees, grantees, or contractors of certain international organizations. FAQ 950 provides this organizational chart of the United Nations, which includes parties covered by GL 18.
GL 19 (Authorizing Certain Transactions in Support of Nongovernmental Organizations’ Activities in Afghanistan) authorizes, among other things, activities to support humanitarian projects to meet basic human needs in Afghanistan and activities to support non-commercial development projects directly benefitting the Afghan people subject to conditions. Based on FAQ 954, purchases of fuel, payment for telecommunications services, payment for security services, payment of rent, and payment of utilities, among other things, could fall under GL 19 (in addition to GLs 14 or 15) provided that they are ordinarily incident and necessary to effectuate the activities authorized by the GL.
FAQ 951 confirms that Afghanistan is not subject to comprehensive sanctions and there is no prohibition on the export or reexport of goods or services to Afghanistan, moving or sending money into and out of Afghanistan, or activities 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.
FAQs 929, 930, and 931 were amended to expand their scope to now include transactions authorized under GLs 16 through 19 (in addition to those previously authorized under GLs 14 and 15). Our previous blog post on GLs 14 and 15 can be found here. These amended FAQs confirm that non-US persons may engage in or facilitate transactions that are authorized for US persons under the above-mentioned GLs without risking exposure under secondary sanctions.
The authors acknowledge the assistance of Ryan Orange with the preparation of this blog post.