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

Europe has come up with a nifty plan to help Iran buy and sell stuff outside the reach of U.S. sanctions. The problem is that the plan is a fraud magnet. How do we know? It’s been tried before, and the fraud was epic.

The plan is known as the “Instrument in Support of Trade Exchanges,” or “INSTEX.” Lots of smart people have been involved in creating the program. Let’s hope they’re not too young to remember 1995, when fraudsters first heard that the UN was setting up a program known as “Oil-for-Food.” Similar to INSTEX, Oil-for-Food was designed to allow a sanctioned country (in that case, Iraq) to sell oil on the world market in exchange for food, medicine, and other humanitarian goods. A 2005 independent audit of the program found a staggering variety of fraudulent schemes netting billions of dollars in income for illicit merchants, intermediaries, and the Saddam Hussein regime itself. If INSTEX is not careful, it could be the victim of similar scams.
Continue Reading How to Steal $10 Billion from Europe

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?

The Prohibitions

On May 8, 2018, the United States withdrew from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action and reimposed all pre-JCPOA sanctions against Iran. We provide a detailed discussion of the reimposition in our article linked here (and linked here is our prediction, a year earlier, that it would happen). After a prescribed wind-down period, all U.S. sanctions on Iran are now in force. Effectively, U.S. sanctions on Iran now return to their pre-2016 levels, including secondary sanctions on non-U.S. companies transacting with the Government of Iran and many of Iran’s industries and financial institutions.
Continue Reading CLIENT ALERT: Iran Sanctions Are Back On: Can Business Continue?

Imagine telling your company’s Board of Directors that the company will have to knowingly violate the law. Further, you might note, the American Law Institute’s Principles of Corporate Governance state that, with very limited exceptions, a director who knowingly causes the corporation to disobey the law violates his duty of care. The protections of the Business Judgement Rule may not be available to a board member who, charged with navigating the Scylla and Charybdis of a conflict of laws, steers right into the shoals of noncompliance.

Beginning August 6, that will be the situation facing the thousands of companies that are subject to U.S. sanctions on Iran and to EU regulations blocking those sanctions. While it appears to be a stark choice, some nuances to the regulations may make navigating the narrow straights of the conflict of laws a less Odyssean and more practically manageable.
Continue Reading Stuck in the Middle With You: EU Blocking Statutes, Iran Sanctions, and the Thousands of Businesses Caught In Between

We’ll give him this: President Trump has an ambitious trade agenda. This fire has many irons in it, and some of them are getting hot. Here at the Global Trade Law Blog, we’ve been following trade law for approximately 250 years and we’ve never seen anything like it in breadth or scale. The administration asks us to trust that there is a disruptive and innovative grand strategy behind it, but to some of us it looks (particularly in comparison to a mostly orderly international trading system in place since 1945) like madness. The question of whether “yet there is method in’t” may only be answered by future historians. For the time being, herewith is our snapshot of the Trump trade agenda, late June 2018 edition.
Continue Reading 5 Weird Things About the Trump Trade Agenda: Disruptive Innovation On a Global Scale

Key Points

1. All sanctions on Iran that were in place before January 2016 will be re-imposed no later than November, 4 2018.

2. Secondary sanctions that penalize non-U.S. persons doing business with Iran will be reinstated.

3. General License H, allowing non-U.S. subsidiaries of U.S. companies to do business in Iran, will be revoked.

4. In some cases, companies may take payments or repayments for sales, loans, or credits to Iran after November 4, 2018
Continue Reading Client Alert: Iran Sanctions Return

While the Travel Ban continues to move up and down the federal court system, here are the latest rules governing travel for citizens of the affected countries as a result of the U.S. Supreme Court’s lifting of the lower courts’ injunctions on December 4, 2017, a December 22 ruling by the Ninth Circuit invalidating the latest travel ban but not enjoining it, and recent action by a Federal District Court in Seattle partially lifting the refugee ban on December 23, 2017:
Continue Reading Confused by the Evolving Travel Ban? Here’s a Cheat Sheet with the Latest Guidance

HERE WE ANSWER A FEW OF THE QUESTIONS THAT YOU MAY HAVE

What does decertification mean?

For the time being, decertification is a solely U.S. issue. Under the Iran nuclear agreement (known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA), Iran agreed to limits on its nuclear program in exchange for relief from U.S. and UN sanctions. Soon after the JCPOA was signed, the U.S. Congress passed the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act (INARA). That law requires the president to certify to Congress every 90 days that Iran is meeting the terms of the nuclear agreement and that continuing to waive sanctions on Iran is vital to the security interests of the United States. Today, he decertified Iran under INARA on the grounds that continuing to waive sanctions is not in the national security interests of the United States.
Continue Reading Today, President Trump Decertified the Iran Deal and Announced Tougher Sanctions on Iran

On July 17, 2017, the U.S. State Department certified that Iran continues to meet the conditions of the Iran nuclear agreement known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA. As a result, for the next 90 days, the United States will maintain significant reductions in its sanctions against Iran as provided in the JCPOA. Among other things, those provisions allow non-U.S. companies to do business in Iran. The State Department’s action signals that for now, State believes that the JCPOA is the right U.S. policy toward Iran.
Continue Reading One Year From Now, You May Be Out of Iran: Trump Administration Policy and the Timeline for Snapback

On July 27, 2017, the U.S. Congress sent to President Trump’s desk a bill that imposes new financial sanctions against Russia, Iran, and North Korea. It appears nearly certain that the president will sign that bill, now called the “Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act” (CAATSA). Edit: President Trump signed the bill on August 2, 2017.
Continue Reading In the Chaos of (Trade) War, Where Does Your Company Find Peace?