I am here to encourage newly authorized trade to and from Cuba.  However, my job is also to ensure that exporters have all of the information they need to make informed business decisions and remain compliant with U.S. trade laws – not just the information in the introductory paragraphs of news articles or press releases. (more…)

Trade Agreements are political hot potatoes, which as a trade attorney I always find interesting.  The presidential candidates have been debating the pros and cons of trade agreements for years from a 60,000 foot level. Is the agreement good for us or not? Now, there is a Commerce Department tool that will help companies determine if a trade agreement will actually cut tariffs for specific export market for a particular product. This could be a real tool for the exporting community.  Currently, the tool is for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), and focuses on goods going to 25 markets.  You can search by tariff code or key word – simple but really useful. (more…)

On March 16, 2016, in what could be the final set of amendments  to the Cuban Assets Control Regulations (CACR) under the Obama Administration, the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) published a Final Rule that further facilitates travel to Cuba, authorizes additional types of financial transactions, and allows companies to have a greater business presence on the island.  As expected, Wednesday’s changes represent yet another small step towards normalization that builds upon past rounds of regulatory amendments implemented on January 16, June 15, and September 21, 2015, and January 27, 2016. (more…)

A year ago I posted an overview of OFAC’s Ukraine and Russia-related sanctions program, located here.  Although the Executive Orders and program structure described in that post have not been changed or expanded, it is important to remember that (1) the existing prohibitions remain in place until further notice and (2) individuals and entities are added and removed from OFAC’s SDN and SSI lists on a regular basis.  This means that if you are doing business with companies that may be located in or may have ties to Ukraine, Crimea, or Russia, you have an ongoing responsibility to ensure that you are not transacting with a prohibited party or exporting to Crimea in violation of OFAC’s regulations or associated State and Commerce policies. (more…)

In December of 2015 the Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (“OFAC”) issued regulations implementing the President’s April 1, 2015 Executive Order (“EO”), “Blocking the Property of Certain Persons Engaging in Significant Malicious Cyber-Enabled Activities.”  The buzz around the water cooler is that many business are worried about the implications of these regulations on their everyday business and cyber security activities like network defense and the use of encryption.  Fear not, OFAC is not coming after your IT department.  These regulations are not meant to deter companies or individuals from protecting themselves or their data, but to identify, isolate, and cripple foreign cyber terrorists and those that pose a threat to national security, foreign policy, or the health of the U.S. economy. (more…)

Iran is a market of 90 million with a young population.  In addition to agricultural products, medicine and medical devices, the U.S. Government has opened up certain Iranian industries to U.S. businesses and foreign entities owned and controlled by U. S. parties can now do business with Iran.  However, there are still restrictions not allowing the the involvement of U.S. parties.  There are two things you need to do. (more…)

There has been a change in the US Department of Justice regarding corporate disclosures. The recently updated United States Attorney’s Manual has revised its provisions called the “Principles of Federal Prosecution of Business Organizations.” These Principles, commonly referred to as the Filip factors, determine when a company gets “mitigation credit” in a civil or criminal prosecution of any kind, including trade matters. Until this November 2015 change, companies would get “mitigating credit” for any voluntary disclosure. If they disclose all known information they will receive a large mitigation benefit. If the company discloses only a little data, it could still receive some credit for cooperating. However, this new policy requires that a company reach a “threshold hurdle” by providing the government with a complete picture of all individuals involved and all facts relating to the misconduct in order for the government to consider providing any cooperation credit for the disclosure by the company. This new policy is meant to help the Department prosecute individuals. (more…)

The Department of Justice’s (DOJ’s) Criminal Division has now hired “Compliance Counsel” but the Department has no plans to move towards making a formal compliance defense available to those charged with regulatory violations.  Assistant Attorney General Caldwell also noted that “[t]he quality and effectiveness of a compliance program is also an important factor that prosecutors consider in determining whether to bring charges against a business entity that has engaged in some form of criminal conduct.”  Ms. Caldwell went on to caution  against mere “window dressing” and “paper programs,” encouraging companies to opt for fostering a corporate culture that actually, actively and visibly supports compliance if they want the DOJ to view their efforts favorably when misconduct occurs. (more…)