Economic Sanctions & Export Control

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Ropes & Gray offers global business leaders unrivaled counsel on all aspects of economic sanctions and export control regulations, providing experienced advice in the face of increasing enforcement activity.

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Overview

Economic sanctions regulations have evolved at an unprecedented pace in recent years, and there is no indication that the pace of change is likely to slow in the near future, due to governments’ increased reliance upon sanctions as a foreign policy tool. In parallel, the U.S. Commerce Department is in the process of identifying additional categories of technology that will be subject to new export control restrictions, the result of which will be a significant expansion of the U.S. export control regime. These and other regulatory developments have paved the way for continued, aggressive enforcement of economic sanctions and export control laws in pursuit of national policy objectives. 

Enforcement actions for violations of economic sanctions regulations administered by the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) within the U.S. Department of the Treasury, the Export Administration Regulations (EAR) administered by the Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) within the Department of Commerce, and the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) administered by the Directorate of Defense Trade Controls (DDTC) within the Department of State have increased dramatically in the last few years. Many of these prosecutions and enforcement actions have involved some of the world’s largest and most respected companies and financial institutions, and the trend of aggressive enforcement of U.S. trade laws is likely to continue. Because of their broad extraterritorial application, sanctions and export control are relevant to virtually all businesses whose operations or activities involve an international component. Companies and other firms involved with international business transactions must understand and comply with complex and ever-evolving sanctions regulations as well as the EAR and ITAR, or face the risk of investigation and prosecution. 

Ropes & Gray offers a top-tier team of attorneys who advise clients, including international conglomerates, freight forwarders, private equity firms and their portfolio companies, and financial institutions, as well as their officers and directors, on all aspects of economic sanctions and export control regulations. Our practice ranges from helping clients develop compliance programs to providing regulatory advice to conducting internal investigations and defending clients facing civil and criminal prosecutions and civil enforcement actions.

Experience

  • Representing an international freight forwarding company in an internal investigation concerning potential OFAC violations by foreign subsidiaries in Europe, the Middle East and Asia.
  • Advising a private equity client on the acquisition of an International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) registrant.
  • Assisting a U.S.-based multinational oil and gas company to assess and improve its compliance program, including with respect to U.S. economic sanctions and export control.
  • Advised a U.S. private equity firm in connection with the OFAC/EU sanctions implications of a potential investment in a Korean energy company, including on the potential application of the Iranian Transactions and Sanctions Regulations.
  • Performed a comprehensive deemed export risk assessment of a multinational biopharmaceutical company, including a review of the company’s technology control plan, classification procedures, human resources policies and intra-company system processes.
  • Obtained a favorable resolution with BIS in connection with a voluntary disclosure of certain exports of sequencing equipment by a U.S. biotechnology product development company in connection with the Russia/Ukraine and Crimea sanctions regulations.
  • Representing an international medical device company in responding to an OFAC subpoena concerning sales to Iran and a BIS voluntary disclosure regarding sales into Syria.
  • Advising an asset management firm on state law prohibitions on investment in companies doing business in embargoed countries.
  • Representing an international freight forwarding company in responding to a BIS and U.S. Attorney’s Office criminal investigation into potential export control violations concerning the shipment of laptop computers to Iran.
  • Represented an international conglomerate in connection with potential OFAC and BIS violations by foreign subsidiaries in Europe and Latin America shipping to Cuba.
  • Advised a privately owned investment manager on compliance with OFAC and BIS regulations, as well as risks associated with proposed transactions around the globe.
  • Advised a number of companies on their disclosure requirements pursuant to ITRSHRA.
  • Advising a private equity firm on OFAC (and AML) issues concerning potential portfolio company acquisitions in India and China.
  • Advising a U.S. private equity firm on activities of a foreign portfolio company that included business arrangements with entities in Myanmar.
  • Advising a private equity firm on OFAC and BIS issues concerning a potential portfolio company acquisition in the insurance adjustment industry.
  • Represented an individual member of the board of directors of a European bank in connection with allegations of illegal U-turn payments.
  • Representing an individual in connection with a threatened criminal action related to potential sales of products to Iran.
  • Assisting a number of companies, both U.S. and foreign, in analyzing potential foreign business transactions for compliance with the Commerce Department’s Commerce Control List and the Treasury Department’s OFAC restrictions. Transactions include acquisitions of foreign companies, partnerships with local companies, and brokering services.
  • Developed and implemented OFAC policies and procedures for several multinational investment advisers, including the preparation of policies and procedures and the provision of global training and standard contract terms and conditions, as well as the evaluation of various compliance matters.
  • Developing a comprehensive economic sanctions and export control compliance for a multinational company based in France.
  • Advising private equity sponsors, their portfolio companies, and investment advisors on the scope of application of U.S. and E.U. sanctions related to Russian and Ukraine.

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