A Carriage of Justice: Obama to Remove Cuba from Terrorist Sponsor List

In a move that may honestly mean more to America than to Cuba, the White House has announced that President Obama will remove Cuba from the U.S. list of “State Sponsors of Terrorism.” As we reported here, the U.S. Department of State has listed Cuba as a state sponsor of terrorism pursuant to the Export Administration Act, the Arms Export Control Act, and the U.S. Foreign Assistance Act since 1982. Reviewing Cuba’s place on the list was one of the central proposals of President Obama’s December 17, 2015 announcement of a new policy toward Cuba. On that day, the President directed Secretary of State John Kerry to review the designation of Cuba under the current facts and the applicable laws. Mr. Obama requested Secretary Kerry’s report within six months, setting up June 17 as the date for a massive trade-geek “over-under” betting pool. Knowing Secretary Kerry to be a classic gunner (law school slang for the person who is always first to raise a hand with the right answer) our money was on the under. So we have cashed in on yesterday’s announcement. All of you who took the over, pay up. Continue Reading

UPDATE: Iran Nuclear Deal

Iran and the Western powers have agreed to agree again. On April 2, 2015, the so-called P5+1 (the United States, the UK, China, France, and Russia) along with the EU, have joined Iran in announcing that they have reached a set of broad “parameters” to be negotiated in detail between now and June 30, 2015, regarding Iran’s nuclear program. Continue Reading

U.S. Authorizes Targeted Sanctions Against Overseas Cyber Threats

Cyber threats are one of the U.S.’s top security threats.  In just the past year, there has been a significant increase in the frequency, scale and sophistication of cyber intrusions and attacks – many of them originating overseas – which have targeted U.S. businesses.  On April 1, 2015, the President announced a new tool to combat the most significant cyber threats to the national security, foreign policy and economy of the United States.   Continue Reading

10 Things You Didn’t Know You Could Import From Cuba

One aspect of the dramatic shift in U.S. policy toward Cuba that has not been widely reported is a relaxation of the old rule prohibiting imports of most Cuban goods and services. Under the new rules, if your Cuban supplier is one of a small but vibrant class of entrepreneurs on the island, there is now a long wish list of goods and services you may import from Cuba. Continue Reading

The Broader Problem: European Bank Creates an Easy Catch for the Long Arm of U.S. Jurisdiction

On March 12, 2015, Commerzbank AG, Germany’s second largest bank and a global financial institution, agreed to pay $1.45 Billion (yes, with a “B”) in forfeitures and fines to the U.S. Government for violating U.S. sanctions against Iran and Sudan. The amount paid by Commerzbank under the settlement will not be shocking to those who read our reporting on the BNP Paribas penalty of $8.9 Billion (again, that is a “B”) for similar sanctions violations. Continue Reading

Paying the Piper: PayPal Inc. Settles Sanctions Violations with OFAC for $7.7 Million

On March 25, 2015, the Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) announced that PayPal Inc. (“PayPal”) agreed to pay $7.7 million to settle 486 violations of U.S. economic sanctions.  According to OFAC, for several years until 2013, PayPal, one of the world’s largest electronic payment companies, did not have adequate compliance processes to “identify, interdict, and prevent” transactions that were in apparent violation of OFAC sanctions programs.  Specifically, PayPal did not employ adequate screening procedures and technology to identify transactions involving U.S. sanctions targets. Continue Reading

Read the Directions Carefully Before Playing: State Department Releases Military Drone Export Guidance

The United States has a responsibility, or so the State Department tells us, to ensure the sales and exports of Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) are consistent with U.S. national security interests, U.S. policy, and even U.S. values. While the government would be glad to keep the export of military drones in lock-step with our policy goals, the realities of a rapidly expanding UAS market and global competition has forced export regulators to consider how to balance the potential loss of economic opportunity against the loss of control of UAS technology. Continue Reading

Add Importers to Those Facing Expanding Whistleblower Claims under the False Claims Act

On February 12, 2015, the Department of Justice (DOJ) announced that three U.S.-based importers had agreed to pay more than $3 million to resolve a lawsuit brought by the United States under the False Claims Act (FCA) alleging that they had made false declarations to U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and conspired with other domestic companies to make false declarations to CBP in order avoid paying “antidumping” and “countervailing” duties.  No government contracts were involved.  These were “reverse” FCA claims based upon underpayment of duties for private sector import transactions. Continue Reading

Havana Hold Your Hand: Reaching Out to Cuban Entrepreneurs

USA and Cuba
New regulations on Cuba enter into force today, only 29 days after President Obama promised them. The liberalized provisions focus on support for private sector actors in Cuba.

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The First Law of International Dynamics: Sanctions May Be Transformed But Never Created or Destroyed

U.S. economic sanctions, by their nature, often change without warning. Since sanctions reflect U.S. foreign and national security policy, they must evolve rapidly with world events. Often, it seems that when one door is closed, another is opened. Most recently, President Obama’s December 17 announcement of an opening to Cuba was followed rapidly by the January 2 announcement of tightening North Korea sanctions. Hence our (mostly facetious) Newtonian law of the conservation of economic sanctions: sanctions may be transformed but never created or destroyed.

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