In a stunning ruling issued on July 15, 2014, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit held that review by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (“CFIUS”) and the subsequent unwinding of the investment deprived the foreign investor of due process under the 5th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Ralls Corp. v. Comm. on Foreign Investment in the United States, No. 12-cv-01513 (D.C. Cir. Jul. 15, 2014) (a copy of the opinion is here). If upheld, the ruling may require fundamental changes in how CFIUS conducts its reviews and may enhance foreign investors’ ability to influence or challenge the outcome of a review.
On July 16, the U.S. Department of Treasury, Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) imposed new sanctions against Russia, which target the country’s financial, energy and defense sectors. In a parallel action, the U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) added 11 parties to its Entity List based on their role in the destabilization of eastern Ukraine and the ongoing occupation of Crimea and Sevastopol.
A red sky at morning is the traditional harbinger of ill weather. From our vantage point in Brussels, we’ve scanned the horizon for signs of the future of anti-bribery enforcement activity in Europe. We’ve identified four factors that are starting small, but may build into heavy seas.
In particular, there are signs that companies that sell to governments in Europe may be well advised to shore up compliance procedures so they can remain dry if a wave of anti-corruption sentiment breaks over the public procurement sector.
We frequently discuss enforcement actions in this blog, because understanding enforcement is a key aspect of trade compliance. From a fifty-thousand foot view, each enforcement case serves as a cautionary tale about the overall need for compliance. On a more granular level, enforcement actions provide valuable insight into how the government thinks about and targets violations of law. These cases also showcase key details about international business practices that might pose “red flags,” and let us learn from others’ mistakes. Effective compliance requires companies to commit high-level attention and large dollar amounts, but also requires entities to critically respond to the facts and details of particular markets on the ground.
Last month, the United States announced new sanctions against Uganda in response to human rights violations, targeted discrimination, and draconian criminal penalties. Specifically, on June 19, the Obama administration quietly revealed plans to cancel a U.S. military-sponsored exercise in Uganda, to prevent entry into the United States by certain Ugandan officials, and to discontinue or divert funds earmarked for certain aide programs involving the Ugandan Police Force, Ministry of Health, and National Public Health Institute.
I will start by saying I am a proud Francophile. I love many things about French culture; from the just-right draw of their espresso (sorry, Italy, that ristretto is just too short and bitter) to the sacrosanct treatment of time for leisure and family. Indeed, most attempts by the country to preserve la vie Française are idealistic efforts to protect what I see as a beautiful way of life (perhaps excluding some of the Académie Française’s more laughable efforts to provide French alternatives to borrowed English words). And some of the country’s biggest companies represent not only the economic engines of France but also embody national pride in global market power.
As we continue to find new ways to look at the implications of the Ukraine-related sanctions introduced by the United States over the past few months, we have shifted our perspective to the extra-terrestrial to focus on the significant effects sanctions may have in space. And from that vantage point, we note that the unintended beneficiary of the United States’ crumbling relationship with Russia may be the U.S. space industry, since the Russians have signaled a desire to end U.S.-Russia space collaboration.
In the country pubs of Ireland, it has long been the practice of the barkeep to “stand the third round” for good customers, meaning to offer the third drink for free. The practice makes sense both as customer appreciation and as an inducement for those fine customers to continue their revelries right where they are. The third round represents a tipping point for the patron from an after-work drink to a full night out: the transition from a quiet pint or two, to a full investment in the proceedings. When the bartender stands the third round, the now-happy, soon-to-be-elated customer is encouraged to see matters through to the evening’s finish.
There’s no end in sight for the turmoil in Ukraine. And there’s no end in sight for international sanctions against Russia for causing that turmoil. As sanctions escalate, so will the collateral damage. New sanctions announced on April 28, 2014 will not only affect Russia and Ukraine, but will affect U.S. business too. But while the United States and its allies continue to double down on their sanctions efforts, no one in Washington seems very confident in the end game.
April 24 marked another day of progress in holding kleptocrats accountable for their corruption.
On that day, the U.S. Department of Justice (“DOJ”) filed a civil forfeiture complaint to seize more than $700,000 in allegedly illicit funds from former South Korean President Chun Doo-hwan. The corrupt proceeds came from the sale of a Newport Beach house, purchased in 2005 by Chun’s son, Chun Jae Yong, who used funds that the former President had wrongfully obtained. According to the DOJ, the United States is collaborating in this matter with the Republic of Korea’s Supreme Prosecutor’s Office, Korea’s Ministry of Justice, and the Seoul Central District Prosecutor’s Office.