I recently co-authored an article for WorldECR with Scott Jones, a nonresident fellow at The Stimson Center, examining the history and current trajectory of the Entity List, part of the Export Administration Regulations (EAR) administered by the U.S. Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) to help protect U.S. national security. In the article, we outline the history of the Entity List and discuss the need for a just and transparent removal mechanism.

We state that “since the 2008 change in scope to include national security and foreign policy concerns, the number of parties added to the Entity List has increased dramatically” from its original purpose of preventing the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.  With the recent technology conflicts between the United States and China, we argue the Entity List has become the most convenient tool in the toolbox to further U.S. national security and foreign policy goals.

Continue Reading History and Trajectory of the Entity List Related to National Security Concerns

The U.S. government continues to vigorously enforce U.S. export laws against both U.S. and non-U.S. companies. In addition to monetary penalties, companies charged with violating U.S. export laws may be subject to strict compliance obligations. In extreme cases, the U.S. government may even suspend a company’s export privileges.

In this webinar, we will discuss recent

On October 12, the U.S. Commerce Department, Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) announced that it imposed a civil penalty fine against VTA Telecom Corporation (VTA) for the unauthorized export of controlled commodities to Vietnam.  Additionally, BIS is requiring VTA to improve its export control compliance efforts and retain a Director of Trade Compliance.  Alternatively, VTA can dissolve or cease operations.

VTA, located in Milpitas, California, was established in 2013 as a subsidiary of a Vietnamese state-owned telecommunications company.  BIS is the primary U.S. government agency responsible for administering and enforcing export controls on commercial items that could support weapons proliferation and other threats to U.S. national security.

According to BIS, VTA procured and exported items from the United States to its parent company in Vietnam with knowledge that certain of those exports were intended to support a Vietnamese defense program. To settle the matter, VTA agreed to the following:

  1. A penalty of $1,869,372.
  2. Expenditure of $25,000 to fund its internal export compliance program (ICP).
  3. Hiring and retention of a Director of Trade Compliance to oversee VTA’s export activities for at least two years.

Continue Reading BIS Imposes Civil Fine and Compels Hiring of Compliance Official or Cease Operations

On September 28, the U.S. Commerce Department, Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) announced that it has imposed a civil penalty fine and denial of export privileges against Vorago Technologies (Vorago) for the unauthorized export of controlled commodities to Russia.

Vorago is a U.S. manufacturer of integrated circuits for use in environments with high radiation levels and extreme temperatures.  The company’s products are particularly well suited for use in space.  BIS is the primary U.S. government agency that administers and enforces U.S. export controls on commercial items, including particularly strict licensing requirements on items that can be used with weapons of mass destruction or conventional weapons.

According to BIS, Vorago engaged in a conspiracy with a Russian company, Cosmos Complect (Cosmos), to circumvent U.S. export controls.  To settle the matter, Vorago agreed to the following:

  1. A penalty of $497,000, and
  2. Denial of export privileges until September 2023.

The denial of export privileges, and roughly half of the penalty, will be suspended as long as Vorago complies with the terms of the settlement.

Continue Reading U.S. Technology Company Pays for Unauthorized Exports to Russia

On February 1, the U.S. Commerce Department, Bureau of Industry & Security (BIS), announced a settlement (available here) with Princeton University in connection with 37 alleged violations of the Export Administration Regulations (EAR).  The EAR are the main regulations that govern exports of commercial goods, software and technology; BIS has principal responsibility for administering and enforcing the EAR.

The settlement is a valuable reminder of the amount of export-controlled activity that takes place at and involving universities, academic medical centers, and other research institutions.  Penalties for export violations can be significant.  Legal departments, compliance departments, and offices of sponsored research therefore must ensure that faculty – many of whom may be non-U.S. nationals – are aware of their responsibilities under U.S. export law.

Alleged Violations

According to BIS, the violations occurred when Princeton exported strains and recombinants of animal pathogen to non-U.S. research institutions.  These items are controlled for export for chemical and biological reasons, and thus an export license is required to make the exports.  Princeton did not obtain the necessary export licenses.

Continue Reading Princeton Penalized for Alleged Research-Related Export Violations

Thad McBride will present with Brian Cope, Director of International Trade for International Paper Company, at a Clear Law Institute webinar focused on exploring the key challenges companies face when engaging in export transactions, as well as best practices for avoiding enforcement action. Attendees of the webinar will learn to:

  • Examine the primary U.S. export controls laws and regulations
  • Understand penalties and recent enforcement actions
  • Recognize key compliance challenges, such as
    • Technology transfers
    • Conducting business with third parties
    • Entering new markets
  • Explore compliance best practices to prevent and detect violations


Continue Reading Webinar – Export Controls: Compliance Challenges and Best Practices

I will be co-hosting a webinar on Tuesday, November 29 on compliance challenges under the Export Administration Regulations (EAR) and International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR). Key topics that will be covered in this webinar include ITAR and EAR amendments and new rules; jurisdiction and classification; licensing, agreements, and exceptions; effective compliance practices; recent enforcement;

On January 27, 2016, the U.S. Commerce Department Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) and the U.S. Treasury Department Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) amended their regulations to further facilitate trade between the United States and Cuba. This is only the most recent set of steps the U.S. government has taken since President Obama announced, in December 2014, that the United States would move toward normalizing relations with Cuba.

While many limitations on trading with Cuba remain in place, the recent amendments ease restrictions related to certain exports and re-exports to Cuba, and travel to the island. The amendments also should make it easier to engage in financial transactions in and with Cuba (so long as the underlying conduct is permitted). Below is a brief summary of the amendments; the amendments themselves are available at 81 Fed. Reg. 4580 (BIS) and 81 Fed. Reg. 4583 (OFAC).

BIS Amendments. BIS controls exports and re-exports of commercial or so-called “dual use” items. Until January 2015, with limited exceptions, BIS prohibited virtually all exports and re-exports of U.S. commercial goods to Cuba. (U.S. defense exports, which are controlled by the State Department, have been and continue to be prohibited for export or re-export to Cuba. This prohibition is unlikely to be lifted any time soon.)

Continue Reading The United States (Yet Again) Eases Trade Restrictions on Cuba

As yet another step in the continuing Export Control Reform (ECR) effort, the U.S. government has recently issued a series of proposed rules that may help clarify key regulatory definitions and requirements that have confused exporters in the past. In particular, the proposed rules may ease licensing requirements for U.S. persons – and the employers of U.S. persons – working in the global defense industry.

First, on May 26, the U.S. Department of State, Directorate of Defense Trade Controls (DDTC) proposed changes to the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) to clarify the registration and licensing requirements that apply to U.S. persons in the United States or abroad who furnish defense services to, or on behalf of, their non-U.S. person employers. See 80 Fed. Reg. 30001 (May 26, 2015).

Then, on June 3, DDTC issued proposed revisions to help clarify the scope of activities and information covered by the ITAR. See 80 Fed. Reg. 31525 (June 3, 2015). The same day, the U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) issued a parallel proposed rule to amend key definitions of the U.S. Export Administration Regulations (EAR). See 80 Fed. Reg. 31505 (June 3, 2015).

What follows is a brief summary of several of the key changes.

Continue Reading ECR Marches On: State and Commerce Announce More Proposed Changes