International Compliance Blog

Sanctions compliance considerations have always been important for cryptocurrency companies, but several recent US government actions suggest regulators are increasingly focused on the intersection between digital currencies and economic sanctions.  This increased focus highlights the importance of sanctions compliance for blockchain-related companies, particularly for those considered to be US persons. This intensified focus has been building for a number of months.  For example, in March of 2018, President Trump issued an Executive Order imposing certain…
On November 20, 2018, the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission reached a political agreement on the proposed EU framework for the screening of foreign direct investments (FDIs). The proposal, which was put forward by the Commission in September 2017, aims to protect key strategic industries and assets in Europe while maintaining the EU’s appeal to foreign investors. While other countries such as Australia, Canada, China, India, Japan and the US, as well as…
Yesterday the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) took its first step towards a potentially significant expansion of U.S. export controls by publishing a Federal Register notice soliciting public comments on how the U.S. government should regulate the export of “emerging technologies.” Under the Export Controls Reform Act of 2018 (ECRA), “emerging and foundational technologies” will be subject to additional export controls and will trigger heightened foreign investment reviews for U.S.…
On November 15, OFAC imposed economic sanctions against 17 Saudi officials for their participation in the killing of Jamal Khashoggi. Khashoggi, a journalist and “royal insider-turned-critic of Saudi policy”, was murdered at the Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbul, Turkey on October 2, 2018. Among the men designated in yesterday’s action are Saud Al-Qahtani—a top aide to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman—and Saudi Consul General Mohammed Alotaibi. These individuals were designated…
Effective tomorrow the State Department is updating its Cuba Restricted List (press release here) to add 26 new subentities (along with amending the entries for 5 previously-listed subentities).  National Security Advisor John Bolton had previewed this action in a speech in Miami in which he labeled Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua the “Troika of Tyranny” and said the U.S. government would be designating “over two dozen additional entities owned or controlled by the Cuban military…
Two recent settlements between employers and the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) emphasize the complex interplay between U.S. immigration and export control laws in the hiring process.  The settlements serve as a reminder to employers of the potential employment discrimination pitfalls for companies attempting to comply with export control laws.  In late August 2018, the DOJ’s Immigration and Employee Rights Section (IER) reached a settlement agreement with international law firm Clifford Chance US LLP, which…
On November 5, 2018, the U.S. government reimposed the remaining sanctions on Iran that were previously lifted under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) in 2016.  Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) added over 700 Iranian entities, individuals, vessels, and aircrafts to the list of Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons (“SDN List”), including scores of previously unlisted targets.  According to a statement from Treasury, these sanctions are “designed to disrupt the Iranian…
Today the President issued a new Executive Order targeting Venezuela, which is noteworthy in three respects: 1) It shows the US government wants to continue to increase the pressure on the Maduro regime through sanctions, but is continuing to act incrementally rather than imposing more sweeping restrictions that had been rumored in the past to be under consideration, such as broader oil sector sanctions. 2) It may have a significant impact on any companies dealing…
As a first step to implementing the wide-ranging Foreign Investment Risk Review Modernization Act of 2018 (FIRRMA) that was enacted in August 2018, the U.S. Department of the Treasury on October 10, 2018 issued an interim rule to launch a “pilot program” to expand the jurisdiction of the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) to review certain “critical technology” transactions.  Treasury also issued temporary regulations that make limited changes to…
The European Commission (the Commission) recently issued draft guidelines on the core elements that European industry should take into account when implementing internal export controls and sanctions compliance programs.  The guidance – which is legally non-binding – will be finalized upon the results of a public consultation providing the opportunity for EU exporters to comment on its core elements.  Companies can participate by responding to a survey until November 15.  It is the intention of…