The US Treasury Department issued on Monday a statement clarifying the implementation of the secondary sanctions pursuant to the Caesar Act on non-US persons.
It affirmed that the Caesar Syria Civilian Protection Act of 2019 does not hinder the humanitarian aid delivery to Syrians.
According to the statement, the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) will not consider transactions to be “significant” for the purpose of a sanctions determination under the Caesar Act if US persons would not require a specific license from OFAC to participate in such a transaction.
Therefore, non-US persons, including non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and foreign financial institutions, would not risk exposure to sanctions under the Caesar Act for engaging in activity, or facilitating transactions and payments for such activity, that is authorized for US persons under a general license (GL) issued pursuant to the Syrian Sanctions Regulations (SySR).
For a list of GLs within the SySR related to humanitarian assistance and trade with Syria, the department said people should see OFAC’s April 16, 2020 “Fact Sheet: Provision of Humanitarian Assistance and Trade to Combat COVID-19.”
Further, section 7425 of the Caesar Act codifies, with some exceptions, the general license of the SySR that authorizes certain services in support of NGOs.
Section 7432 of the Caesar Act includes a humanitarian waiver for activities not otherwise covered by the GL of the SySR, the statement added.
It stressed that the guidance with respect to non-US persons does not apply to transactions and activities that may be subject to sanctions under other sanctions programs administered by OFAC.
These include transactions with blocked persons designated under Executive Order (EO) 13224 (OFAC’s counterterrorism authority) or EO 13894 (OFAC’s Syria-related authority), unless exempt or otherwise permitted by OFAC.
Since the Act’s implementation, Washington has imposed sanctions on more than 100 persons and entities affiliated with the Syrian regime and its allies.
Observers said the Treasury’s statement indicates Washington will probably reduce its sanctions on some financial and commercial transactions, in light of the challenges facing the humanitarian aid provision process to Syria.
Syrian opposition sources in Washington said their efforts to communicate with US officials have finally yielded results.
They demanded an explanation as to what can be done in order not to allow the regime to exploit the Act to punish Syrians.