• California company accused of sanctions violations challenges U.S. Treasury Department
  • Appeals court generally sides with government but remands because of arbitrary and capricious decision related to five alleged violations
  • Traditional interpretation of “inventory exception” is considered by Court

It is rare for companies to go to court to fight penalties imposed by the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) for violations of U.S. sanctions. It is even more rare for a court to make any sort of finding against the agency.  Yet that is exactly what happened when the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit (D.C. Circuit) recently considered OFAC’s imposition of penalties against Epsilon Electronics (Epsilon) for alleged violations of U.S. sanctions against Iran.

Continue Reading Rare Court Case Sheds Light on U.S. Sanctions Enforcement

  • American Honda Finance Corporation pays for alleged violations of U.S. sanctions on Cuba
  • Violation committed by American Honda’s subsidiary in Canada
  • Penalty underscores breadth of U.S. jurisdiction, importance of compliance reviews

On June 8, the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) announced a monetary penalty against American Honda Finance Corporation (American Honda) for alleged violations of the Cuban Assets Control Regulations (CACR), the primary regulations by which the United States imposes economic sanctions on Cuba.  A copy of the OFAC press release announcing the penalty is available here.

Continue Reading The Long Arm of U.S. Sanctions: Penalty Imposed Against Canadian Subsidiary of U.S. Subsidiary of Japanese Company

  • Proposed legislation targets current gaps in U.S. financial crime law and enforcement
  • Bi-partisan Senate legislation would likely expand compliance obligations for banks and others in financial services industry
  • Proposed legislation is in line with U.S. and international efforts to fight terrorism and trafficking through economic sanctions and anti-money laundering (AML) rules

On May 25, 2017, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) introduced the “Combating Money Laundering, Terrorist Financing, and Counterfeiting Act of 2017” (the “Act”).  The full text of the bill is available here.

Continue Reading Proposed Legislation Would Combat Terrorist Financing, Money Laundering

I commented on an article published by PaymentsCompliance, a global leader in supporting the payments industry, on new legislation proposed in the U.S. Senate to target terrorism financing and money laundering. In the article, I point out that the proposed bill could create a greater compliance burden for banks and other financial entities and service providers. I also note that it is “nice to see a bipartisan effort to come up with something which most people would agree is a good measure.”

Continue Reading U.S. Bill Proposes Major AML Updates

I co-authored an article with Heather Smith, Associate General Counsel and Secretary at Lydall, Inc., outlining best practices for companies to undertake to ensure successful export transactions. The article also discusses the relevant regulations and agencies governing and enforcing export activities, such as the Export Administration Regulations (EAR), the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) and Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC). As we point out in the article, “U.S. export and sanctions laws have a broad reach and can cover conduct occurring entirely outside the United States and actions undertaken by non-US parties.” It is therefore important that any company involved in export transactions be aware of and establish “a robust culture of compliance, including tone from the top and clear policies and procedures, [as] an essential part of effective compliance.”

Continue Reading Export Compliance: Challenges and Best Practices

On Wednesday, May 10, 2017, I will be in Oak Ridge, Tennessee taking part in a Mentor Protégé & Joint Venture Speaker Panel Seminar. This interactive seminar will offer insights for small businesses and large prime contractors on assembling, marketing, and administrating joint ventures and teaming arrangements. It will address the unique challenges presented by teaming agreements and joint ventures while offering best practices for navigating these strategic alliances more effectively to win government contracts.

This program is sponsored by The University of Tennessee Procurement Technical Assistance Center (PTAC), the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) and the Oak Ridge Chamber.

Visit the SBDC website for more information and registration.

Last month, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) released results from its investigation into the effectiveness of the Department of Defense (DoD) Pilot Mentor-Protégé Program. In accordance with the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for 2016, GAO reviewed DoD’s procedures for approving mentor-protégé agreements, its performance measures for the program, and the differences between its program and the new All Small Mentor Protégé Program established by the Small Business Administration (SBA).

Continue Reading GAO Review Calls for Greater Oversight of DoD’s “Pilot” Mentor-Protégé Program

I will be in Tampa, Florida on Friday, May 5 speaking at the 30th Annual Government Small Business Conference: Game Plan for Federal Contracting. I will speak on the topic of, “SBA Mentor Protégé Program” at 10:50 a.m. This session will provide an overview of the Mentor Protégé program and offer insights into how businesses of all types can take advantage of the program. This session is appropriate for businesses looking to develop their business and compete more successfully for federal government contracts.

Visit the Florida Small Business Development Center website for more information and registration.

In an article published in the May/June 2017 issue of ABA Bank Compliance (a publication of the American Bankers Association), I provided insight on how banks can mitigate violations with the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC). In January 2017, OFAC announced a settlement in which a large Canadian bank agreed to pay more than $500,000 in monetary penalties for 170 alleged violations of U.S. sanctions against Iran and Cuba. This especially costly example of financial stakes for banks and other financial institutions illustrates the importance of compliance, despite the challenges they face as they process millions of transactions on a daily basis and across international boundaries. While all risks cannot be eliminated, through careful investigation, compliance enhancements, monitoring and record keeping, financial institutions can help mitigate most risks.

For more details on key strategies to protect against violations and to remediate them when they do occur, access the PDF of the article, “Mitigating Economic Sanctions Risk,” below.

Download Document – ABA Bank Compliance May June 2017

On April 18, President Trump signed the “Presidential Executive Order on Buy American and Hire American” (the Order), which declares the Executive branch’s policy to buy American goods and rigorously enforce and administer laws governing entry into the United States of workers from abroad.  The Order is keeping with President Trump’s campaign promises regarding hiring American workers and promoting U.S. manufacturing, and signals a renewed focus on domestic sourcing requirements as well as the likelihood of greater restrictions on work visas for non-U.S. citizens.

Continue Reading Buy American Executive Order Means Renewed Obligations for Government Contractors