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Fatema Merchant is a partner in the Government Contracts, Investigations and International Trade and White Collar Defense and Corporate Investigations Practice Groups in the firm's Washington, D.C. office.

Since President Biden took office and put his national security team in place, we have wondered about the future of the Iran Nuclear Deal. In the past weeks, the Biden Administration has taken formal steps to possibly restore the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (i.e., JCPOA or Iran Nuclear Deal).
Continue Reading JCPO-Wait-A-Minute: How New Talks Between the U.S. and Iran Could Revive the Iran Nuclear Deal

On January 19, 2021, the U.S. Department of Commerce (“DOC”) issued an interim final rule governing transactions in Information and Communication Technology or Services (“ICTS”) involving “foreign adversaries.” Although the rule takes effect on March 22, 2021, it allows DOC to review covered transactions initiated, pending, or completed on or after January 19, 2021.
Continue Reading Friend or Foe? The DOC Issues New Interim Rule on Transactions Involving Information and Communication Technology or Services (“ICTS”) and Foreign Adversaries

On January 13, 2021, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) issued a Withhold Release Order (WRO) on cotton and tomato products produced by entities operating in Xinjiang, China. The order is based on information that indicates the use of forced labor in the production of the goods. If you are sourcing these products from the Xinjiang region, you may want to consider proactive compliance steps to mitigate your risk and prevent disruption in your supply chain.  
Continue Reading CBP Stops More Imports Under Forced Labor Rules (Cotton a Jam, Part II)

The Takeaway: Severe restrictions on ByteDance’s Sale of TikTok should be a warning to media and tech companies with foreign ownership, particularly Chinese investment, to know your risks and mitigate them before the government comes knocking.
Continue Reading UPDATE: National Security Meets Teenage Dance Battles: U.S. Increases Pressure on ByteDance Sale of TikTok

On August 6, 2020, Trump issued two separate executive orders that will severely restrict TikTok and WeChat’s business in the United States.  For weeks, the media has reported on Trump’s desire to “ban” TikTok with speculation about the legal authority to do so.  We break down the impact of the Orders below.
Continue Reading National Security Meets Teenage Dance Battles: Trump Issues Executive Orders Impacting TikTok and WeChat Business in the U.S.

This article originally appeared on Law360 on June 9.

The novel coronavirus and resulting global health pandemic and economic crisis created a perfect storm for bad actors to engage in fraud and financial crimes. Law enforcement’s response to the criminal activity spurred by the pandemic and economic stimulus and relief efforts are still nascent and focusing on low hanging frauds by individuals and small groups.
Continue Reading Another COVID-19 Enforcement Tool: Money Laundering Law

Taking a break from reporting on COVID-19 legal developments, we turn for a moment to what is happening now on export control of autonomous vehicle technology.

The autonomous vehicle R&D sector is booming, largely in the last three years. Companies are investing in sensor technology and machine learning, and creating pilot programs to test self-driving cars both for individuals and ride-sharing purposes.


Continue Reading The Emerging Landscape for Export Controls on Autonomous Vehicle Technology

On March 8, the U.S. government signaled regulatory changes that may create new opportunities for international collaboration on satellite development, global sales of satellite and launch equipment, and even sharing launch technology.

. . . and the Government wants you to weigh in.
Continue Reading Clear for More Takeoffs: Now is the Time to Have Your Voice Heard on New Satellite and Launch Regulations

Happy new year everyone. The government is shut down, but there has already been a flurry of activity in 2019 on the economic sanctions and embargoes front. Here is a summary of where we stand on various sanctions regimes.

Russia. On January 10, 2019, the Trump administration defended its decision to ease U.S. sanctions against companies connected to the Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska. In 2017, the “Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act” (CAATSA) passed Congress overwhelmingly and was signed into law by President Trump. As we blogged here and here, CAATSA codified strict Russia sanctions. It also allows Congress to block any termination of sanctions by the Executive. In December 2018, the Treasury department announced that it would lift sanctions on three of Deripaska’s companies: EN+ group, Rusal, and JSC EuroSibEnergo. Though Deripaska would continue to be subject to sanctions personally, Secretary Mnuchin reportedly told members of Congress in a briefing that the three companies had committed to “significantly diminish Deripaska’s ownership and sever his control.” Many lawmakers left the briefing unimpressed, and expressed concern that lifting sanctions would result in a tremendous financial benefit to Deripaska, whose designation by Treasury for sanctions last year reads like a mafia indictment. For now, it is unlikely that Congress is united enough to use its CAATSA powers to maintain the sanctions in the face of the Administration’s decision to lift them. But it is clear that Congressional Democrats intend to exercise their oversight powers when it comes to sanctions (or lack thereof) against Russia.
Continue Reading New Year Sanctions Roundup: Where Do We Stand?