International Compliance Blog

On February 13, 2019, the State Department provided a summary of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s recent phone call with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, which stated that “Secretary Pompeo reiterated the U.S. determination to hold Russia accountable for its use of a chemical weapon in Salisbury, UK through sanctions as required by the CBW Act.”  The sanctions Secretary Pompeo referenced are the second round of sanctions slated to be imposed on Russia under the…
As we have previously written, the US Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) designated the Venezuelan state-owned oil company Petróleos de Venezuela, S.A. (PdVSA) as a Specially Designated National (SDN) on January 28, 2019. This action will have a significant impact on US persons and businesses involved in any dealings with PdVSA or its subsidiaries. The designation also applies to any entity owned 50% or more by PdVSA, including companies…
On January 31, 2019, OFAC announced a $996,080 settlement with e.l.f. Cosmetics, Inc. (“ELF”) for violations of the North Korea Sanctions Regulations arising from the importation of 156 shipments of false eyelash kits that contained materials that were sourced from North Korea and that were purchased from suppliers in China. In January 2017, ELF discovered that approximately 80% of its false eyelash kits contained materials from North Korea, and ELF voluntarily disclosed the violation to…
On January 28, the US Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) announced the designation of Venezuelan state-owned oil company Petróleos de Venezuela, S.A. (PdVSA) as a Specially Designated National (SDN).  The designation was made pursuant to Executive Order (EO) 13850 (Blocking Property of Additional Persons Contributing to the Situation in Venezuela).  That order initially applied only to the Venezuelan gold sector, but as part of the Treasury Department’s actions, Treasury Secretary…
On December 17, 2018, the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (“FinCEN”) announced that UBS Financial Services, Inc. (“UBS”) had entered into a consent agreement to resolve violations of the Bank Secrecy Act (BSA). UBS is a global firm providing financial services in over 50 countries, including the U.S.  As part of this agreement, UBS will pay $14.5 million in civil penalties to U.S. regulators — $5 million of which will be paid to the U.S. Department…
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…