President Trump’s October 13 speech denounced Iran’s “fanatical regime” as a “menace,” and threatened to terminate the 2015 Iran nuclear deal negotiated by Barack Obama and formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). He accused the “rogue” Iranian government of financing terror organizations, imprisoning Americans and fomenting vicious civil wars. (more…)

On October 17, 2017, trade representatives from the United States, Canada, and Mexico wrapped up the fourth round of negotiations concerning the North American Free-Trade Agreement (NAFTA) in Washington D.C. The latest round of negotiations were openly contentious, and a trilateral statement issued by the nations’ respective trade representatives noted that the “[n]ew proposals have created challenges” and that “significant conceptual gaps” exist amongst the current NAFTA parties. After four rounds and 22 days of negotiations, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer stated that he was “[s]urprised and disappointed by the resistance to change from our negotiating partners.” In fact, at least five U.S. proposals have reportedly drawn pushback from our North American neighbors, leaving the parties far apart heading into the fifth round of negotiations scheduled for November in Mexico City. (more…)

On Thursday September 21st, President Trump signed Executive Order 13810 Imposing Additional Sanctions with Respect to North Korea (” the E.O.” or “E.O. 13810”).  E.O. 13810 significantly expands the U.S. Treasury Department’s authority to impose a broad range of sanctions unlike those we’ve seen before. The expansion of authority includes the ability to impose “secondary sanctions” on non-U.S. parties who take part in foreign activities involving certain North Korean sectors or entities.  For example, OFAC now has the power to block U.S. correspondent account access to any foreign bank that knowingly conducts or facilitates significant transactions tied to trade with North Korea. (more…)

On August 2nd, President Trump signed into law the “Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act” (H.R. 3364), which gives the President the power to solely waive or terminate sanctions against Russia if Congress reviews and approves of the action. President Trump argues that that bill is “seriously flawed” because it encroaches on his authority to conduct foreign affairs. (more…)

American Honda Finance Corporation (American Honda) has settled with the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) over potential civil liability for 13 violations of the Cuban Assets Control Regulations (CACR), which allegedly occurred between 2011 and 2014. What’s notable is that the matter involved the Canadian affiliate of the global company which was acting entirely independently and outside of the U.S. (more…)

Canada and Mexico have now appointed negotiating teams of seasoned professionals. Canada also has created a NAFTA Council comprised of public and private sector experts from the energy, auto, labor and agricultural fields. Negotiations will begin in the U.S. during the week of August 16. The next round has already been set to take place in Mexico for the week of September 10. Mexico would like the talks completed by the end of the year, well ahead of the 2018 Presidential election next July. The U.S. has so far acquiesced to such a schedule; however, the Canadians may not be as accommodating. (more…)

A recent OFAC enforcement case illustrates that even non-U.S. companies that do business with sanctioned jurisdictions under the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) face significant risks when using U.S. dollar payments. This means that OFAC is claiming jurisdiction over any transaction that’s in U.S. dollars. (more…)

The Criminal Division’s Fraud Section of the Department of Justice (“DOJ”) published  an “Evaluation of Corporate Compliance Programs” (the “Compliance Manual”) which offers guidance on the common questions contemplated by the agency when making  determinations of corporate liability. My primary take away is that the Compliance Manual puts management on notice that the company will now be held to a higher standard regarding the details of its compliance program. (more…)

A D.C. Circuit Court of Appeal’s panel recently issued a key opinion affirming the U.S. Treasury Department’s broad ability to enforce sanctions regulations through its Office of Foreign Assets Control (“OFAC”).  While the court ultimately set aside a $4.07 million penalty, the decision established critical precedent for export compliance and future OFAC enforcement actions.  Significantly, the court ruled that OFAC does not have to prove that a company’s exports actually reached a sanctioned destination in order to impose penalties for sanctions violations. Rather, OFAC simply has to show that a company knew or had reason to know that through its third-party distributor, the company’s exported goods would ultimately end up in a sanctioned country.  (more…)