US tightens sanctions lid on Russian oil shipper Rosneft

The U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) has added another entity of Russian oil shipper Rosneft to its growing list of sanctioned companies that continue to conduct business with the Maduro regime of Venezuela.

Specifically, OFAC placed Russian-controlled oil brokerage Rosneft Trading S.A., based in Geneva, along with the company’s chairman, Didier Casimiro, on the Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons (SDN) List.

U.S. individuals and companies are generally prohibited from conducting business with individuals or entities on the SDN List. Additionally, any entities owned 50% or more in the aggregate by these listed individuals or entities are blocked.

“Rosneft Trading S.A. and its president brokered the sale and transport of Venezuelan crude oil,” said Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin in a statement on Tuesday. “The United States is determined to prevent the looting of Venezuela’s oil assets by the corrupt Maduro regime.”

Rosneft Trading S.A. is a subsidiary of the Russian global energy giant Rosneft Oil Co. (OTCMKTS: RNFTF) and, according to OFAC, helps the parent company with foreign projects.

“The core activities of Rosneft Trading S.A. are marketing and distribution, including the trading, processing, and transport of raw materials, in particular unrefined petroleum and petroleum products,” OFAC said.

In recent years, Rosneft Trading has conducted business with Venezuelan state oil company, Petroleos de Venezuela (PdVSA), which is also on the SDN List for providing financial support to President Nicolas Maduro.

OFAC noted in January that Rosneft Trading managed the shipment of 2 million barrels of Venezuelan crude oil to West Africa. PdVSA planned to ship 55 million barrels through Rosneft Trading between September and December 2019, the agency said.

“U.S. sanctions need not be permanent and are intended to change behavior,” OFAC said. “The United States has made it clear that we will consider lifting sanctions for those who take concrete, meaningful, and verifiable actions to support democratic order in Venezuela.”

Current U.S. sanctions against Venezuela, especially targeting its transportation and energy industries, have already taken a heavy toll on the South American country’s economy.

The Trump administration said it would lift the sanctions against Venezuela once Maduro steps down and Juan Guaidó, who reportedly won the country’s vote in January 2019 to be the next president, is in power.