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956. For the Belarus, Russian Harmful Foreign Activities (Russia) Ukraine-/Russia-related, and Venezuela-related sanctions programs, how does OFAC view modifications to pre-existing loans, contracts, or other agreements to replace London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR) as the reference rate? 


In July 2017, the United Kingdom Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) announced the “future cessation and loss of representativeness” of the ICE Benchmark Administration’s 35 global reference rates, the LIBOR rates.  In light of the discontinuation of LIBOR as a benchmark reference rate, OFAC is issuing additional guidance.   

The Belarus, Russia, Ukraine-/Russia-related, and Venezuela-related sanctions programs prohibit U.S. persons from dealing in certain new debt of persons identified as subject to these prohibitions.  In FAQ 944 (Belarus), FAQ 986 (Russia-related)FAQ 371 (Ukraine-/Russia-related), and FAQ 511 (Venezuela-related), OFAC provides examples of new debt, such as “bonds, loans, extensions of credit, loan guarantees, letters of credit, drafts, bankers acceptances, discount notes or bills, or commercial paper” issued on or after various specified dates.  For more information on the effective dates and relevant debt maturities for each of these sanctions programs, please see FAQ 947 (Belarus), FAQ 984 (Russia-related)FAQ 370 (Ukraine-/Russia-related), and FAQ 553 (Venezuela-related).

For the Belarus, Russia, Ukraine-/Russia-related, and Venezuela-related sanctions programs, OFAC has indicated that certain changes to contractual terms of loans, contracts, or other agreements that were entered into prior to the effective date of the relevant sanctions prohibitions could convert pre-existing debt that was not subject to the sanctions prohibitions into new debt that is subject to the sanctions prohibitions.  (See FAQ 947 (Belarus), FAQs 987 and 989 (Russia-related) FAQ 394 (Ukraine-/Russia-related), and FAQ 553 (Venezuela-related).

Loans, contracts, or other agreements that use LIBOR as a reference rate that are modified to replace such benchmark reference rate will not be treated as new debt for OFAC sanctions purposes, so long as no other material terms of the loan, contract, or agreement are modified.

Date Updated: February 24, 2022

Date Released
January 7, 2022