Bethany Brown

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On March 10, 2015, the U.S. Department of Justice (“DOJ”) announced a $4.9 million settlement of criminal and civil charges against CommerceWest Bank (“CommerceWest” or the “Bank”) brought pursuant to the Bank Secrecy Act (“BSA”), the Financial Institutions Reform, Recovery and Enforcement Act (“FIRREA”), and the Fraud Injunction Statute. The government alleged that, between December 2011 and July 2013, the Irvine, California-based Bank willfully facilitated consumer fraud by failing to report the suspicious activities of…
On August 13, 2014, the Office of Foreign Assets Control (“OFAC”) revised its guidance on the status of entities owned by persons designated on the Specially Designated Nationals List (“SDN List”).  Under the new guidance, OFAC will consider an entity to be blocked if it is 50 percent or more owned, directly or indirectly, in the aggregate by one or more SDNs. This rule applies even if the entity is not itself listed on the…
On July 15, the D.C. Circuit held that a presidential order requiring Ralls Corporation to divest its interests in Oregon windfarms because of national security concerns deprived Ralls of its constitutionally protected property interests without due process of law.  In doing so, the D.C. Circuit reversed a district court decision that had emphasized the president’s near-absolute, discretionary authority when responding to national security threats raised by foreign investment in the United States.  [link to
On April 28, the U.S. Department of Commerce announced a new licensing policy restricting exports of “dual use” items that could contribute to Russia’s military capabilities.  Effective immediately, the Commerce Department’s Bureau of Industry and Security (“BIS”) will deny new and pending export license applications to Russia or occupied Crimea of high-technology items that could benefit Russia’s military.  BIS is also taking actions to revoke existing export licenses meeting these same criteria.  All other export…
On March 19, the Office of Foreign Assets Control (“OFAC”) issued a general license under the Iranian Transactions and Sanctions Regulations that authorizes several specific forms of academic exchanges with Iran. The newly issued general license – General License G (the “License”) – authorizes qualifying U.S. colleges and universities to engage in certain transactions related to Iranian students and educators. Additionally, the License makes provisions for U.S. persons to participate in certain educational activities in…
On October 10, 2013, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia issued an amended ruling dismissing Ralls Corporation’s (“Ralls”) challenge to a presidential order requiring divestiture of its interest in four companies engaged in developing wind farms near a Naval base in Oregon. After the deal concluded, Ralls – a Delaware corporation privately owned by two Chinese nationals – submitted the deal to the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (“CFIUS”)…