A Surge In Populism: Dangers To Transnational Trade In The Americas And Reasons For Hope

The ongoing presidential election in the United States has underscored a move against free trade by both of the main political parties.  This article briefly summarizes some of the proven benefits of free trade and juxtaposes these with the stated positions of the Democratic and Republican parties in the pending presidential election.  The article also examines, and disposes of, several of the key criticisms of the legal framework underpinning further trade integration.  The article ends hopefully—historically, U.S. Presidents have abandoned anti-trade campaign rhetoric once in the Oval Office.

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Espionage and Export Controls: The iPhone Hack Highlights The New World of Warfare

Last week, researchers at Citizen Lab uncovered sophisticated new spyware that allowed hackers to take complete control of anyone’s iPhone, turning the phone into a pocket-spy to intercept communications, track movements and harvest personal data. The malicious software, codenamed “Pegasus,” is believed to have been developed by the NSO Group, an Israeli company (whose majority shareholder is a San Francisco based private equity firm) that describes itself as a “leader in cyber warfare” and sells its software — with a price tag of $1 million – primarily to foreign governments. The software apparently took advantage of three previously unknown security flaws in Apple’s iOS software, and was described by experts as “the most sophisticated” ever seen on the market. Apple quickly released a patch of its software, iOS 9.3.5, and urged users to download it immediately.

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Layover in Tehran: United States Authorizes Carriers to Land Civil Aircraft in Iran

On July 29, 2016, the U.S. Treasury Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) cleared the runway for non-U.S. operators of civil aircraft to send flights into Iran. New  “General License J” authorizes many Boeing, Airbus, and other civil aircraft containing U.S.-origin materials to fly to Iran on “temporary sojourn.” The General License provides a great opportunity for non-U.S. aircraft owners and operators. However, a series of complex conditions may complicate ground handling agreements, damp or dry lease arrangements, code sharing, or other transactions related to providing service to Iran.

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The Revival of the Age of Antidumping and Countervailing Duty Cases

For the first time since the era of pagers, dial-up, and Y2K hysteria, U.S. trade remedy cases are experiencing a resurgence. Under U.S. law, U.S. producers of goods may petition the U.S. government to impose extra tariffs on the import of competing goods deemed to be traded unfairly.

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The Morning After: Waking up to Brexit and Its Impact on Your Business

On the morning of June 24, 2016, we woke up to a headline that had been much discussed, but still added a jolt to many people’s morning coffee: Britain to Leave the European Union.

The first response, almost inevitably, was fear and confusion. Global markets dropped precipitously (as did the Pound Sterling and the Euro) until the Bank of England spoke up to reassure investors, and even then the exchanges appeared jittery. Nevertheless, after bolting from bed in the first shocking instant, we propose a calmer moment to reflect on the new reality. Over breakfast (English breakfast tea with that, perhaps?), we may carefully examine how Brexit will impact global business.

To begin, we have taken that moment to analyze the implications of the UK’s separation from the European Union in the realm of sanctions, export controls, and foreign investment in the United States. We address those implications in the four questions below. Continue Reading

Are You Within Reach of Anti-Money Laundering Enforcement? The Tentacles of Money Laundering Schemes Affect Real Estate Investors Worldwide

The U.S. Treasury Department has signaled the latest focus of its enforcement: real estate ventures with ties to money laundering schemes. Individual real estate investors and companies involved in luxury real estate, real estate development or investment, property management, and escrow or mortgage services around the globe should heed Treasury’s warnings.

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Buying Russian Bonds: Risky Business or Safe Bet?

In late May, The Russian Federation issued its first sovereign bond since the Ukraine crisis in 2014. The sole organizer of the bond is VTB Capital, an arm of VTB Bank, Russia’s second largest financial institution. Both VTB Capital and VTB Bank are subject to sectoral sanctions.

According to published reports, the 10-year bond is being offered at yields of 4.65-4.9 percent. Russia’s goal was to raise $3 billion to help with its budget deficit caused by weak oil prices. Reportedly, the bond generated $7 billion of demand, though the Russian finance ministry announced only $1.75 billion in sales. Foreign investors constituted more than 70% of the bond purchasers. According to media reports, large global banks declined to participate, partly due to sanctions compliance risks. But as we will see, the compliance risks aren’t very clear. We will examine the exact risks and evaluate the question of why banks might be over-complying.

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Flying the Too-Friendly Skies? Europe Opens Routes for Sanctioned Iran Airline

On June 20, 2016, you will be able to take a non-stop flight from Tehran to Paris . . . but you probably shouldn’t.

According to its website, the Iranian airline Mahan Air will add the City of Lights to the list of European destinations it is already serving, including Athens, Copenhagen, and Dusseldorf. What makes the current and proposed Mahan routes interesting to regulatory experts (read: nerds) is that Mahan Air is on the U.S. Treasury’s Specially Designated Nationals (SDN) list. According to the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), Mahan Air has moved troops and equipment for the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps and has provided support and transport to the Assad regime in Syria.

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In Wake of Panama Papers Scandal Obama Calls for Stricter Bank Regulations, Tax Rules

In a news conference today President Obama addressed rules and proposed regulations announced Thursday intended to help the U.S. fight tax evasion and other crimes connected to anonymous offshore companies and accounts.  The announcements come after a month of intense review by the administration following the first release of the so-called Panama Papers, millions of documents stolen or leaked from Panamanian law firm Mossack, Fonseca.  The papers have revealed a who’s who of international politicians, business leaders, sports figures and celebrities involved with financial transactions accomplished through anonymous shell corporations.

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New Business Opportunities in Iran! But Who Will Be Your Banker? Non-U.S. Banks Hesitant to Process Lawful Iran Transactions…and for Good Reason

Highlights:

  • Sanctions relief presents new business opportunities with Iran
  • Most U.S. companies are still prohibited from Iran business, but the U.S. government is encouraging lawful business by non-U.S. companies
  • The line between permitted and prohibited financial transactions by non-U.S. banks is not clear
  • Careful advice of counsel is critical

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