Washington, D.C.— Today, the U.S. Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Asset Control announced an extension of a General License or waiver enabling U.S. banks and financial institutions to process transactions involving Russian energy to other countries.  Last week, U.S. Congressman Andy Barr (R-KY) sent a letter to Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen requesting that she allow this waiver to expire on June 24.  Following Treasury’s announcement, Congressman Barr released this statement:

“Treasury’s waiver permitting U.S. banks and financial institutions to process Russian energy transactions to other countries is enabling Russia’s energy industry to boom despite an American import ban. Russia’s energy sector is bankrolling Putin’s war machine in Ukraine, financing the killing of innocent civilians, including women and children in Ukraine. That is why it is inexplicable for Treasury to continue this waiver any longer. After Russia’s brutal war in Ukraine began, President Biden promised the full weight of American sanctions power on the Russians. It is time for this Administration to match its rhetoric with action. In the meantime, I’ll keep pushing my legislation in Congress to fully close the Russia energy loophole in our sanctions. I encourage my colleagues to unite around my proposal and exert Congressional pressure on the Administration to change course.”

In March, Congressman Barr introduced the No Energy Revenues for Russian Hostilities Act. The Barr proposal creates a carrot and stick approach.  Congressman Barr’s bill prohibits banks and financial institutions from processing Russian energy transactions unless the Secretary of Treasury grants a waiver.  If the Secretary grants a waiver to allow the transaction, funds used in the transaction wouldn't be given to the Russian energy company but instead would be placed in escrow.  Therefore, these funds could be used as leverage to entice Russia to stop their war in Ukraine.