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Fatema Merchant is a partner in the Governmental and White Collar Defense and Corporate Investigations Practice Groups in the firm's Washington, D.C. office. Fatema is the Office Managing Partner of the firm's Washington, D.C. office and leads the Sanctions Team at Sheppard Mullin.

On March 29, 2024, BIS issued an interim final rule (IFR) updating and correcting its advanced computing and semiconductor regulations[1] published in October 2023 (which we discuss here in Episode III). This marks the third release of such semiconductor-related regulations since the key regulations were issued in October 2022 (which we discuss here in Episode I; and check out these posts here (Episode II) and here (Episode IV) for background).Continue Reading China Semiconductor Export Regulations, Episode V – Updates and Corrections to the Advanced Computing and Semiconductor Regulations

On February 29, 2024, the Biden administration issued a statement addressing the national security risks to the U.S. auto industry directing the Department of Commerce to conduct an investigation into Chinese made “connected vehicles” (CVs).Continue Reading Department of Commerce Initiates Investigation into Chinese-Made “Connected Vehicles”: Potential Prohibitions on Certain Information and Communications Technology and Services

On Wednesday, March 6, 2024, the Department of Commerce, Department of the Treasury and Department of Justice issued another Tri-seal Compliance Note, focusing this time on the obligations of foreign based persons complying with U.S. sanctions and export control laws as well as recent enforcement actions. This may signal more scrutiny on the compliance of foreign companies which we have discussed here.Continue Reading Guidance to Foreign Companies on Export Controls and Sanctions: Departments of Commerce, Treasury, and Justice Issue Tri-Seal Compliance Note on Foreign Based Persons’ Obligations to Comply with U.S. Sanctions and Export Control Laws

On November 21, 2023, the U.S. Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) announced its largest settlement in history with the virtual currency exchange Binance. This almost-billion dollar settlement is a part of a larger comprehensive settlement with the Department of Justice, FinCEN, and the CFTC, totaling over $4 billion. OFAC found that Binance had allowed 1.6 million transactions in violation of multiple sanctions regimes while Binance’s C-Suite was complicit. Binance’s blunders that led to this enforcement action highlight the importance of management commitment to compliance programs.[1]Continue Reading Binance’s Paper Compliance Program Crumples Under OFAC Scrutiny in Largest OFAC Settlement in History

Key Takeaways

Continue Reading China Semiconductor Export Regulations, Episode III – What a Difference a Year Makes

On August 9, 2023, President Biden issued an Executive Order (E.O.) ordering the issuance of outbound investment restrictions. This E.O. comes after nearly a year of anticipation (as we have documented on several occasions over the past year). This is the start of the reverse Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) process that has been mostly speculation (and blog articles) until yesterday. In conjunction, the Treasury Department issued a press release, fact sheet, and Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM) seeking comments from the public on the proposed restrictions by September 28.Continue Reading Reverse CFIUS Unveiled: Focus on China, Semiconductors, Artificial Intelligence, and Quantum Computing

Recently, the Department of Commerce issued a memo, emphasizing that “technology protection is a core national security priority” and how companies that choose not to disclose significant violations of export regulations may have to bear concrete costs for non-disclosure. This memo highlights the continued focus to control U.S. technology security breaches, especially in the semiconductor and advanced computing industries.Continue Reading Technology Protection is a Core National Security Priority: BIS Strengthens Its Policy on Disclosures

On March 31, 2023, the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) announced a $72,230.32 settlement agreement with Uphold HQ Inc. (Uphold), a global multi-asset digital trading platform, in connection with 152 apparent violations of the Iranian Transactions and Sanctions Regulations, the Cuban Assets Control Regulations, and Executive Order (E.O.) 13884. OFAC continues to focus on the virtual currency ecosystem which we have discussed here (Kraken) and here (Bittrex). This settlement provides another look at important compliance considerations for companies operating in the digital asset industry and a few practical tips.Continue Reading OFAC Finds Digital Assets Trading Platform in Violation of Sanctions

On March 2, 2023, Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco delivered remarks to the ABA’s National Institute on White Collar Crime. Unsurprisingly, her remarks focused heavily on inspiring a culture of compliance – including highlighting the DOJ’s new policy to incentivize companies to self-report criminal activity (which our Organizational Integrity Group discusses here). But, her remarks also emphasized an emerging priority for DOJ enforcement: the intersection of corporate crime and national security.Continue Reading “Sanctions Are The New FCPA”: DOJ Increases Focus on Sanctions and Export Control Enforcement

In response to Russia’s ongoing aggression in Ukraine, both the United States and the European Union have imposed additional sanctions and further restricted exports to Russia and Iran. These new controls span many industries.Continue Reading Friday Development: New Sanctions and Export Controls to Address Russia’s Ongoing Aggression in Ukraine (Including the use of Iranian UAVs)

As we close out a wild year for international trade regulation,[1] after hearing much talk about outbound investment review mechanisms, we may see a final dramatic change before the ball drops. Since the summer, we have talked here about potential outbound investment reviews (reverse CFIUS? SUIFC?). And while there have been reports of potential action by both Congress and the Biden Administration on outbound investment, it is all the more possible to see executive action before a new Congress takes seat.Continue Reading Will We Ring in the New Year with Outbound Investment Restrictions?