Navigating Economic Sanctions Successfully: Yormick will Present Upcoming FCIB Webinar

On April 23, international trade and business attorney, Jon Yormick, will present a webinar on Navigating Economic Sanctions Successfully for The Finance, Credit & International Business Association (FCIB). The 1-hour webinar begins at 11:00 am EST and is open to FCIB members and non-members.

In his presentation, Yormick will provide an update on the recent economic sanctions relating to events in Ukraine, discuss key U.S. economic sanctions regimes, discuss recent OFAC General Licenses and TSRA licenses that give companies certain business opportunities within the U.S. sanctions regimes for Iran and other countries subject to U.S. sanctions, and emphasize economic sanctions compliance, including lessons learned from recent OFAC and BIS civil penalty cases.

Yormick is an experienced international business and trade attorney practicing in the areas Export Controls & Economic Sanctions, Customs & International Trade, and FCPA/Anticorruption. He represents U.S. and foreign clients before the U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS), the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the U.S. Department of State, Directorate of Defense Trade Controls (DDTC), the U.S. Department of Treasury, Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), and the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) on import and export laws and regulations, including the Export Administration Regulations (EAR), and the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR).  His clients include those in the advanced manufacturing, advanced materials, aerospace and defense, distribution, electronics, energy, medical device, oil/gas, pharmaceuticals, professional services, steel, textiles and apparel, and transportation/logistics sectors.

For more information about FCIB visit, www.fcibglobal.com, or use this link to register for the webinar, http://bit.ly/1kWK9Q4

New York Dental Supply Company “Acting with Knowledge” Settles Iranian Transactions Regulations Charge

Last month, a family-owned dental supply company in New York settled a civil penalty with the Department of Commerce, Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS).  The amount of the civil penalty settlement was rather minimal – $8,750 – but the case is noteworthy nonetheless.

BIS proposed charging the company with a single count of violating the Export Administration Regulations (EAR), specifically 15 CFR § 764.2(e) – acting with knowledge that a violation of the EAR was about to occur or was intended to occur.  The settlement agreement explained that in 2008, the company sold dental products for export to Iran, via the UAE, without the required authorization to do so from the Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC).  The dental supplies were valued at $12,950 and were EAR99 items, meaning they were subject to the EAR, but not on the Commerce Control List (CCL).  Products designated as EAR99 generally do not require an export license from the U.S. Government; however, a license is required to certain destinations and Iran is certainly one such destination.

For companies and their legal counsel who may not be well-versed in this complex area of export controls and economic sanctions law, it should be noted that although the shipment was to be delivered in the UAE, because the supplies were ultimately destined for Iran, the Iranian Transactions Regulations (ITR) control this export transaction and others like it.  As stated in the settlement agreement, “an export to a third country intended for transshipment to Iran is a transaction that requires OFAC authorization.”

The settlement agreement went on to explain a frequently heard scenario in which the company initially made contact with the Iranian buyer at a trade show in Dubai.  In this instance, the New York company subsequently began to complete an OFAC license application to obtain authorization to export the products to Iran.  However, the application was never completed and submitted, so the company never obtained an OFAC license.  The company’s VP for Sales and Marketing explained to BIS Office of Export Enforcement (OEE) agents that the “OFAC license application was too complicated and time consuming,” so it was decided to proceed with the sale and attempt to export the products without the license.  Intentionally abandoning the OFAC license application, knowing that a license was required, led BIS to propose charging the company with one count of “acting with knowledge” in this instance.  Wisely, the company resolved the case by agreeing to pay the civil penalty within 30 days.  No other sanctions were imposed under the settlement agreement.

This settlement offers some instructive points for U.S. exporters and exporting foreign companies with a U.S. nexus.  First, it is a violation of the EAR and the ITR to sell and export products to an Iranian party via a transshipment destination, whether the UAE, Singapore, or any other country.  Second, certain EAR99 products can be sold and exported to Iran, provided a license from OFAC is obtained and the terms of that license are followed carefully.  Under the Trade Sanctions Reform and Export Enhancement Act of 2000 (TSRA), companies can export certain EAR99 agricultural commodities, medicines or medical devices to Iran.  While the specific dental supplies in this case are not listed, other dental supplies are provided in BIS guidance (implants, dentures, crowns, instruments).  This means that the potential sale would likely have qualified for a TSRA license from OFAC.  While somewhat time-consuming for SMEs, has this New York company followed-through on completing the license application and submitting it, the outcome in this case likely would have led to an export success, rather than becoming another BIS civil penalty settlement to read and comment upon.

For assistance with understanding and complying with the Export Administration Regulations, the Iranian Transactions Regulations, or other export controls and economic sanctions, as well as representation before BIS and OFAC in investigations, civil penalty, and voluntary self-disclosure matters, please contact Jon P. Yormick, Attorney and Counsellor at Law, jon@yormicklaw.com  or by calling +1.866.967.6425 (Toll free in Canada & U.S.) or +1.216.928.3474.

Recent Executive Order Extends Civil Penalties Against U.S. Parent Companies for Foreign Subsidiary Violations of Iranian Trade Sanctions

Earlier this month, President Obama signed Executive Order 13628 (EO 13628), which increases the risk of civil penalties against U.S. parent companies based on transactions undertaken by their foreign subsidiaries.

Section 4 of EO 13628 creates the most significant impact on U.S. companies and their foreign subsidiaries.  Section 4(a) prohibits any “entity owned or controlled by a United States person and established or maintained outside the United States may knowingly engage in any transaction, directly or indirectly, with the Government of Iran or any person subject to the jurisdiction of the Government of Iran,” if the transaction is prohibited by U.S. laws or regulations.

Significantly, Section 4(b) permits civil penalties to be imposed against U.S. companies that own or control the foreign entity that engages in the prohibited transaction, while Section 4(c) creates a window of opportunity for U.S. parent companies to divest and avoid civil penalties if the parent “divests or terminates its business with the [foreign] entity not later than February 6, 2013.”

Notably, the Executive Order’s penalty provision does not apply to U.S. companies that have an existing OFAC license to export medicine or medical devices to Iran under the Trade Sanctions Reform Act, a so-called “TSRA license.”  However, companies should review all TSRA licenses to confirm activities by their foreign subsidiaries are covered and ensure there is no compliance risk in light of EO 13628.

This new development marks the first time that U.S. sanctions against Iran have been extended to cover the activities of U.S. owned or controlled foreign subsidiaries.  Only U.S. sanctions against Cuba have similar extraterritorial reach to U.S.-owned or controlled foreign subsidiaries.

Ahead of the President signing EO 13628, OFAC posted three new FAQs on its website, entitled Questions Related to Section 4 of Executive Order “Authorizing the Implementation of Certain Sanctions Set Forth in the Iran Threat Reduction and Syria Human Rights Act of 2012 and Additional Sanctions with Respect to Iran, http://tinyurl.com/93dp4ad.

Regardless of the November 6 Election Day outcome, it seems unlikely that a change in administration will cause a change in U.S. policy regarding sanctions against Iran.  Therefore, U.S. companies and foreign businesses owned or controlled by U.S. persons (individuals and entities) should be reviewing how EO 13628 may impact their business activities, be planning for a change in those practices, and reviewing export controls and economic sanctions compliance policies and procedures to account for this latest development.

For questions and assistance regarding EO 13628 and other export controls and economic sanctions issues, please contact Jon P. Yormick, Attorney and Counsellor at Law, jon@yormicklaw.com.

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