In response to national security concerns and foreign policy objectives, the U.S. government has promulgated stringent, far-reaching regulations to control exports and enforce economic sanctions. These complex and ever-changing U.S. laws regulate the export or reexport of goods, technology and software, and restrict transactions with certain specified individuals, entities and destinations. All companies that engage in international transactions are potentially affected by these laws. Penalties for failure to comply can be severe and may result in significant ramifications for companies’ business operations and reputations and for all individuals involved. Our knowledge and experience enables us to help companies comply with the universe of export control and economic sanctions laws.
Our Export Controls & Economic Sanctions team consists primarily of lawyers in our International Trade group, drawing as needed on the significant experience of those in our White-Collar Crime group. Our team includes lawyers who have years of relevant experience working for the U.S. government and in private practice. In addition, we work with a trusted network of foreign law firms in key jurisdictions around the globe to conduct or assist in internal investigations of potential violations and ensure compliance with all aspects of these laws.
We advise and represent a broad array of small, medium and multinational corporations on a wide range of matters related to this area of law. We counsel clients on transactional, compliance and enforcement matters related to export controls, restrictions, embargoes and antiboycott regulations including the Export Administration Act (EAA), Export Administration Regulations (EAR), International Emergency Economic Powers Act, Trading with the Enemy Act, Iran Sanctions Act, Arms Export Control Act (AECA) and International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR).
Our practice encompasses matters before various U.S. agencies, including the Department of Commerce, Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS); the Department of the Treasury, Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC); the Department of State, Directorate of Defense Trade Controls (DDTC); the Department of Justice; the Department of Homeland Security; and the Department of Defense.
We advise clients on compliance issues, help develop or upgrade compliance policies and programs and assess the effectiveness of those programs, conduct internal audits, undertake international investigations and prepare voluntary disclosures, represent clients in government enforcement actions and settlement negotiations, and advise clients on trade-related due diligence.
Export classification of goods and services. We assist companies with a review and assessment of their products or services for proper classification of items covered by the Commerce Control List (CCL) or the U.S. Munitions List (USML). When necessary, we prepare classification requests or a commodity jurisdiction (CJ) request to have BIS determine the proper Export Control Classification Number (ECCN) or, if determined to be a defense article or service, the appropriate category under the USML.
Counseling on general licensing requirements and strategies. We counsel companies on the license requirements mandated by the different regulatory agencies, often dependent upon an item’s technical characteristics, destination, end-user and end-use. Once we determine that an export requires a license, we assist in preparing and filing license applications or related agreements.
Technology transfers to or employment of foreign nationals. We advise companies on the proper control of and restrictions surrounding the release of export-controlled goods or technology to foreign nationals who may be employed and reside in the United States. We provide counsel on submitting license applications for foreign nationals pursuant to the “deemed export” rule.
Compliance programs. To ensure that internal policies and procedures minimize the risk of noncompliance with existing export control and economic sanctions laws, we help companies design and implement compliance programs. We address all elements of the compliance program, including corporate policies, internal procedures, training and audits, disciplinary measures and third-party contract provisions. Working in close collaboration with company personnel, we assist in crafting individualized programs that promote effective and efficient compliance, risk assessment and management, and timely discovery and notification to upper management of potential issues. We continuously monitor regulatory developments and evaluate best practices to serve our clients’ interests.
Compliance counseling. Our advice covers a wide range of export issues pertaining to the movement of goods, technology and services. We counsel companies on compliance issues concerning the operations of their overseas subsidiaries, affiliates and joint venture partners. We conduct audits of companies’ product classifications, export transactions and internal compliance procedures.
Voluntary disclosures. We assist clients with company-wide internal reviews of possible export controls violations, advising on the pros and cons of voluntary disclosure. When disclosures are warranted, we help prepare and submit disclosure reports, respond to follow-up questions from government enforcement agents and engage in settlement negotiations on behalf of clients.
Enforcement actions and litigation. We defend clients faced with criminal and civil charges stemming from alleged violations of export control and economic sanctions laws. We represent clients in enforcement actions, settlement negotiations and litigation with BIS, OFAC and DDTC.
Due diligence for corporate transactions. When clients undertake mergers, acquisitions, IPOs or other corporate transactions, we counsel on reducing risk related to international trade concerns. We conduct due diligence of potential exposure and successor liability in connection with the full range of risks relating to international trade regulations, including possible violations of U.S. export controls, economic sanctions and antiboycott regulations.
The export control and economic sanctions matters we have handled include:
- Managing all export controls, licensing and agreement approvals with DDTC for an EU-based electronics and laser manufacturer.
- Managing all export controls, licensing and compliance issues under the EAR for a U.S.-based manufacturer of controlled products.
- Defending an international technology company in an export investigation with BIS regarding deemed exports.
- Obtaining BIS approval to enable seamless manufacturing for a process control manufacturer with South American operations.
- Defending a chemical manufacturing company in an export investigation while protecting highly sensitive proprietary intellectual property.
- Managing ITAR approvals for U.S.-based defense contractors working to support U.S. military operations overseas.
- Defending voluntary disclosure of controlled exports and deemed exports for a multinational corporation, resulting in zero penalties.
- Avoiding a penalty after filing a voluntary disclosure on perceived encryption violations for a multinational electronics manufacturer.
- Negotiating a settlement for a U.S.-based manufacturer regarding potential OFAC sanctions.
- Advising numerous companies on compliance issues related to U.S. trade embargoes, including those in effect against Iran, Cuba, Syria, Sudan and North Korea.
- Conducting training programs for U.S. and overseas company personnel with respect to U.S. law and company policy concerning export controls, economic sanctions and antiboycott laws.
- Advising numerous companies on compliance with U.S. antiboycott regulations, assisting in reporting boycott requests and advising on possible violations.