Treasury Sanctions Nicaragua’s Attorney General
Treasury Sanctions Nicaragua’s Attorney General

WASHINGTON — Today, the Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) sanctioned Wendy Carolina Morales Urbina, Nicaragua’s Attorney General,for being complicit in the Ortega-Murillo regime’s oppression. Today’s action, taken pursuant to Executive Order (E.O.) 13851, as amended, targets a key actor in the Nicaraguan regime’s unjust persecution of political prisoners and civil society within the country. 

“The Attorney General of Nicaragua, in concert with the Ortega-Murillo regime, has exploited her office to facilitate a coordinated campaign to suppress dissent by seizing property from government political opponents without a legal basis,” said Under Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, Brian Nelson. “The United States reiterates its enduring support for the Nicaraguan people, who continue to bravely reject the authoritarianism of President Ortega and his inner circle.”

In 2018, anti-government protests erupted in Nicaragua, prompting ongoing violent repression by the Ortega-Murillo regime. President Ortega and the Vice President, Rosario Murillo, Ortega’s wife, have consolidated power, suppressed popular protests, incarcerated political opponents, and silenced critical voices in the media or forced them into exile. President Ortega governs with a tight-knit group of trusted figures in the police, the military, and parliament. On February 9, 2023, President Ortega expelled 222 political prisoners and put them on a flight to Washington, D.C. According to the Nicaraguan government, the deportation of the prisoners was intended to protect peace and national security and those freed have been declared traitors who can never serve in Nicaraguan public office. As a result, Nicaragua stripped the 222 former political prisoners of their Nicaraguan citizenship.  

WENDY CAROLINA MORALES URBINA

Wendy Carolina Morales Urbina (Morales Urbina) is a Nicaraguan national who was appointed to the role of Attorney General of the Republic of Nicaragua on May 10, 2019, by President Ortega. In her capacity as Attorney General, Morales Urbina is responsible for enabling the Ortega-Murillo regime to steal real property formerly belonging to independent media outlets, international organizations, and political prisoners. In her role as Attorney General, Morales Urbina proves to be loyal to the Ortega-Murillo regime. She holds great power under their protection to determine who receives properties.  

In several instances Morales Urbina appeared in her official capacity in various private buildings, presented deeds to new owners and declared the properties were now being made for public use. Morales Urbina has also seized property from thousands of non-governmental organizations under law explicitly to suppress freedom of association. Morales Urbina carried out the dispossession of all properties of the 222 political prisoners who were banished from Nicaragua. Morales Urbina was key to formulating the strategy to designate Nicaraguan opposition members as terrorists and block their financial resources using an existing anti-terrorism law. 

Morales Urbina is designated pursuant to Executive Order (E.O.) 13851, as amended, for being an official of the Government of Nicaragua or for having served as an official of the Government of Nicaragua at any time on or after January 10, 2007; and for being responsible for or complicit in, or for having directly or indirectly engaged or attempted to engage in, any transaction or series of transactions involving deceptive practices or corruption by, on behalf of, or otherwise related to the Government of Nicaragua or a current or former official of the Government of Nicaragua, such as the misappropriation of public assets or expropriation of private assets for personal gain or political purposes, corruption related to government contracts, or bribery.

Morales Urbina is one of the voices of the Ortega-Murillo regime at international forums where debates on the crisis in Nicaragua and violations of human rights take place. Morales Urbina frames her statements under the Nicaraguan government’s rhetoric of being a victim of human rights defense groups that allegedly want to destabilize Nicaragua. Morales Urbina was appointed Attorney General in 2019 in violation of Nicaraguan law, as she had not practiced law for the requisite 10 years prior to her appointment.

SANCTIONS IMPLICATIONS

As a result of today’s action, all property and interests in property of the designated persons described above that are in the United States or in the possession or control of U.S. persons are blocked and must be reported to OFAC. In addition, any entities that are owned, directly or indirectly, individually or in the aggregate, 50 percent or more by one or more blocked persons are also blocked. Unless authorized by a general or specific license issued by OFAC, or exempt, OFAC’s regulations generally prohibit all transactions by U.S. persons or within (or transiting) the United States that involve any property or interests in property of designated or otherwise blocked persons. 

In addition, financial institutions and other persons that engage in certain transactions or activities with the sanctioned entities and individuals may expose themselves to sanctions or be subject to an enforcement action. The prohibitions include the making of any contribution or provision of funds, goods, or services by, to, or for the benefit of any designated person, or the receipt of any contribution or provision of funds, goods, or services from any such person. 

The power and integrity of OFAC sanctions derive not only from OFAC’s ability to designate and add persons to the SDN List, but also from its willingness to remove persons from the SDN List consistent with the law. The ultimate goal of sanctions is not to punish, but to bring about a positive change in behavior. For information concerning the process for seeking removal from an OFAC list, including the SDN List, please refer to OFAC’s Frequently Asked Question 897 hereFor detailed information on the process to submit a request for removal from an OFAC sanctions list, please click here.

Click here for more information on the individual and entity designated today.

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Official news published at https://home.treasury.gov/news/press-releases/jy2200