Canadian Sanctions Related to Venezuela

Types of sanctions

Asset freeze

Financial prohibitions

Recent developments

  • 2019-04-15 - Regulations were amended
  • 2019-03-04 - Regulations were amended
  • 2018-05-30 - Regulations were amended
Do you need a permit or certificate?

Prohibitions

Sanctions related to Venezuela have been enacted under the Special Economic Measures Act in order to implement the decision of the Association formed between Canada and the United States of America on September 5, 2017. The Association called on its members to take economic measures against Venezuela and persons responsible for the current situation in Venezuela.

The Special Economic Measures (Venezuela) Regulations impose an asset freeze and dealings prohibition on listed persons. The Regulations prohibit any person in Canada and any Canadian outside Canada from:

  • dealing in property, wherever situated, that is owned, held or controlled by listed persons or a person acting on behalf of a listed person;
  • entering into or facilitating any transaction related to a dealing prohibited by these Regulations;
  • providing any financial or related services in respect of a dealing prohibited by these Regulations;
  • making available any goods, wherever situated, to a listed person or a person acting on behalf of a listed person; and
  • providing any financial or other related services to or for the benefit of a listed person.

Causing, facilitating or assisting in prohibited activities is likewise prohibited.

Exceptions

The above-noted asset freeze and dealings prohibitions do not apply to the following activities or transactions:

  • payments made by or on behalf of a listed person pursuant to contracts entered into prior to the coming into force of the Regulations, provided that the payments are not made to a listed person or to a person acting on behalf of a listed person;
  • transactions necessary for a Canadian to transfer to a non-listed person any accounts, funds or investments of a Canadian held by a listed person on the day on which that person became listed;
  • dealings with a listed person required with respect to loan repayments made to any person in Canada, or any Canadian outside Canada, for loans entered into with any person other than a listed person, and for enforcement and realization of security in respect of those loans, or repayments by guarantors guaranteeing those loans;
  • dealings with a listed person required with respect to loan repayments made to any person in Canada, or any Canadian outside Canada, for loans entered into with a listed person before that person became a listed person, and for enforcement and realization of security in respect of those loans, or repayments by guarantors guaranteeing those loans;
  • pension payments to any person in Canada or any Canadian outside Canada;
  • financial services required in order for a listed person to obtain legal services in Canada with respect to the application of any of the prohibitions set out in these Regulations;
  • transactions in respect of accounts at financial institutions held by diplomatic missions, provided that the transaction is required in order for the mission to fulfill its diplomatic functions under the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, or transactions required in order to maintain the mission premises if the diplomatic mission has been temporarily or permanently recalled;
  • transactions with any international organization with diplomatic status, agencies of the United Nations, the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, or with any entity that has entered into a grant or contribution agreement with Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada; and
  • transactions by the Government of Canada that are provided for in any agreement or arrangement between Canada and Venezuela.

Permits and Certificates

A separate Special Economic Measures (Venezuela) Permit Authorization Order made pursuant to subsection 4(4) of the Special Economic Measures Act authorizes the Minister of Foreign Affairs to issue to any person in Canada and any Canadian outside Canada a permit to carry out a specified activity or transaction, or any class of activity or transaction, that is otherwise restricted or prohibited pursuant to the Regulations.

Background

After democratic elections held in December 2015 saw a coalition of opposition parties win a majority in the National Assembly, the Venezuelan government proceeded to systematically strip the powers of the National Assembly. In January 2016, President Nicolas Maduro declared a state of emergency and has since been ruling by decree. During the spring of 2017 Maduro created a National Constituent Assembly (or ANC), which stripped the democratically-elected, opposition-led National Assembly of its powers. Countries from around the globe, including Canada, refuse to recognize the legitimacy of the National Constituent Assembly or any of its decisions.

As a result of the government’s systematic erosion of Venezuela’s democratic institutions and its grave human rights abuses, and in response to the Association between Canada and the United States that was formed on September 5, 2017, which called on its members to take economic measures against Venezuela and persons responsible for the current situation in Venezuela, the Special Economic Measures (Venezuela) Regulations came into force. On September 22, 2017, Canada listed 40 individuals linked to the Maduro regime and its actions against the security, stability and integrity of democratic institutions in Venezuela.

On November 23, 2017, Canada announced targeted sanctions against 19 Venezuelan officials under the Justice for Victims of Corrupt Foreign Officials Act. These individuals are responsible for, or complicit in, gross violations of internationally recognized human rights, have committed acts of significant corruption, or both.

The presidential elections of May 2018, did not meet international standards to be considered either free or fair. As such, the electoral process and results were rejected by Canada and many likeminded partners as lacking transparency, legitimacy and credibility. On May 30, 2018, in response to further erosion of democratic institutions in Venezuela and the consolidation of President Maduro’s power through the illegitimate elections of May 20, 2018, the Special Economic Measures (Venezuela) Regulations  were amended to add fourteen (14) additional individuals, bringing to 70 the total number of Venezuelan officials sanctioned by Canada.

On January 10, 2019, Maduro swore himself in for a second term based on the illegitimate and anti-democratic elections of May 2018. His claim to the presidency was rejected by Canada, the international community, and the democratically-elected National Assembly of Venezuela; on January 15, 2019, the National Assembly declared that Nicolas Maduro had usurped the presidential powers. On January 23, 2019, the President of the National Assembly, based on article 233 of the Venezuelan Constitution, assumed the interim presidency of Venezuela. To date, more than 50 countries, including Canada, have recognized Juan Guaidó as Interim President of Venezuela.

Since then, the Maduro regime has increased the persecution and repression of its political opponents and the Venezuelan people. Their oppressive actions include preventing relief supplies from entering Venezuela; the widespread arrests of hundreds of anti-regime protestors; censorship and suppression of freedom of expression; the use of the co-opted judiciary to pursue political leaders and civilians who exercise their civil and political rights; and the extrajudicial killing of dozens of people during protests against the Maduro regime.

The repressive acts of the Venezuelan government have been widely criticized in reports by credible sources, including the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights; a Panel of Independent International Experts appointed by the Secretary General of the Organization of American States; the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights; Amnesty International; Human Rights Watch; and others.

The amendment of April 15, 2019 adds 43 individuals to the Regulations, most of whom are high level officials of the Maduro regime implicated in the actions mentioned above. The amendment brings to 113 the total number of Venezuelan individuals subject to Canadian sanctions.

Selected documents

Regulations

Regulations and Orders made under the Special Economic Measures Act:

Announcements

Announcements related to the Regulations made under the Special Economic Measures Act:

Related links

Legal advice

Please be advised that Global Affairs Canada cannot provide legal advice to members of the public. For this reason, we cannot deliver an opinion as to whether or not a specific activity or transaction would contravene sanctions legislation. You should consider seeking legal advice in relation to an activity that may contravene a Canadian sanction law.

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