The Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) took action last Monday, November 8, 2021, and sanctioned a Latvia-based exchange, Chatex, its associated support network, and two ransomware operators for facilitating financial transactions for ransomware actors. In total, OFAC designated Chatex and 57 cryptocurrency addresses (associated with digital wallets) as Specially Designated Nationals (SDNs). OFAC took this action pursuant to Executive Order 13694, issued in 2015, which provides broad sanctions authority to address the national security threat posed by malicious cyber-actors outside the United States.

Continue Reading OFAC Enforcement Impacts NFTs: As Crypto Enforcement Ramps Up to Combat Ransomware, Robust Compliance is Key

Prior COVID-19 Travel Bans Repealed as of November 8, 2021

On October 25, 2021, President Biden announced the suspension of the COVID-19 travel bans from Brazil, China, India, Iran, Ireland, the Schengen Area, South Africa, and the United Kingdom.  Previously, a National Interest Exception waiver was required.  With this new Proclamation, the White House announced a global vaccination requirement for all adult foreign national air travelers and authorized the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to provide specific regulations.  The White House announcement can be found here.


Continue Reading Sheppard Mullin Travel Checklist ‒ New Vaccination Travel Restrictions for Entry Into the United States: Air and Land Rules Effective November 8, 2021

Background

Last Friday, the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) published more targeted guidance for digital asset companies related to compliance with sanctions and best practices for mitigating risks. This guide comes on the heels of OFAC’s first enforcement action against a cryptocurrency exchange, SUEX (which we discussed in our blog here). Given the rise of ransomware threats from malicious cyber-actors that are often linked to sanctioned countries and persons, the lack of very robust regulatory oversight of the virtual currency world, the emerging nature of the technologies, and the growth of the market, it is clear that OFAC hopes crypto companies will pay more attention to sanctions risks and compliance with the issuance of this guidance. While the guide covers a lot of familiar territory, we outline a few key takeaways below.


Continue Reading Sanctions Compliance for Crypto: OFAC Issues Guidance Targeting Virtual Currency Industry

If your company is like many, your board of directors may be demanding that you put more effort into environmental, social, and governance issues, which have become known by the now-ubiquitous acronym “ESG.” Those demands don’t come from nowhere: consumers are demanding transparency and social responsibility. In particular, if your company does business internationally, regulators are focused on international social justice issues (such as the use of forced labor) more than ever.

Continue Reading Does Your Trade Policy Support Your Company’s Values?

Today, the United States Trade Representative issued a notice informing the importing community about a new Section 301 exclusion process and seeking comments from affected importers. The comment period begins on October 12, 2021, and ends on December 1, 2021.

Continue Reading Exclusions 2.0. The USTR Announces a New Section 301 Exclusion Process for Chinese Products

Companies are putting forth more effort, thought, commitment, and resources into environmental, social, and corporate governance (ESG) considerations across their business lines. The focus of ESG has primarily centered around climate change and sustainability, but the “S” in ESG is becoming increasingly important to consumers and other stakeholders. As global corporate citizens become more vocal about asserting their identity and values, it is critical to think about how their global trade and compliance policies and supply chains reflect those values. Issues like forced labor in the supply chain, third party diligence, and how to build an ethical culture are part and parcel of a strong compliance program. But these issues also present opportunities for companies to reflect their values in a fundamental way and speak to what consumers are demanding with their dollars.

Continue Reading ESG, Global Trade, and Forced Labor: Aligning Compliance with Company Values

Yesterday, the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) announced sanctions on SUEX OTC, S.R.O, a cryptocurrency exchange, for its role in laundering money to ransomware attackers. According to OFAC, SUEX facilitated criminal transactions involving at least eight ransomware variants and 40% of SUEX’s known transaction history involved bad actors. The designation of SUEX is the first time OFAC has sanctioned a virtual currency platform – and this approach may prove to be a useful regulatory tool to make malicious cyberactivity less profitable and therefore deter cyber-criminals. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said the government is “committed to using the full range of measures, to include sanctions and regulatory tools, to disrupt, deter, and prevent ransomware attack[s].”

Continue Reading First OFAC Sanctions Against a Cryptocurrency Exchange: Could the Designation of SUEX Signal an Enforcement Trend to Combat Cybercrime?

Internet platform providers rely upon developers of applications to populate their application stores.  Some platform providers mandate app developers to use the platform’s in-app purchasing system as a condition to sell the apps on the platform.  There have also been commission charges as high as 30% imposed on digital goods or services sold through their stores.  The temptation to use their enormous leverage to gain further economic advantage is understandable, but governments, not to mention app developers, have taken an increasingly dim view of this behavior.  A number of countries are considering legislation to prohibit such mandates by Internet platform providers.  A leading example is the Republic of Korea, where its legislature has just voted to enact such a prohibition.

Continue Reading Legislatures Can Free App Developers from Platform Providers’ Mandates to Use Their In-App Purchasing Systems Without Violating WTO Principles

This is the second of three articles on the Solar Industry and Forced Labor. Here we focus on interactions with solar module suppliers. Our first article in the series focused on regulations in this area, and our next will focus on investors and their requirements.

Continue Reading Clean Energy’s Messy Problem II: The Solar Industry, I͟t͟s͟ S͟u͟p͟p͟l͟i͟e͟r͟s, and the Complex Task of Combatting Forced Labor

This is the first of three articles on the Solar Industry and Forced Labor. Here we focus on regulation. Articles in the coming weeks will focus on issues facing importers and their suppliers, and on investors and their requirements.

Continue Reading Clean Energy’s Messy Problem: The Solar Industry, the U.S. Government, and the Complex Task of Combatting Forced Labor

The travel bans imposed by the U.S. Government during the COVID-19 national pandemic created enormous logistical challenges for anyone seeking to fly to the U.S. from a country on the travel ban list.  Even today, there is still a great deal of confusion regarding who is subject to the travel ban, what are the exceptions, and how to go about applying for a National Interest Exception (NIE) waiver.  The checklist below is intended to help simplify an albeit complicated process.  Of course, most U.S. Consulates are still operating at limited capacities so significant delays for waivers and visa stamping is still the norm.


Continue Reading Navigating the Travel Ban Jungle: National Interest Exception Checklist for the U.S. COVID Travel Bans