Home / News / The Export Control Update: July 2017

Export and Recordkeeping Violations Nets $700,000 Fine for Axis Communications

By: Ashleigh Foor

On June 9, 2017 a total of 15 charges were brought against Chelmsford, MA company, Axis Communications, Inc, resulting in a $700,000 fine and a thorough audit of its entire export controls compliance program.

Thirteen of the charges were from exporting thermal imaging cameras without the required licenses on, around, or between the dates of March 16, 2011 and July 15, 2013. Axis exported thermal imaging cameras controlled by the Export Administration Regulations (EAR) from the United States to Mexico. Valued at $391,819, these exports required export license. Thermal imaging cameras, classified under Export Control Classification Number 6A003.b.4, are controlled for national security and regional stability reasons.

Axis also received two charges for failing to comply with EAR recordkeeping requirements. In mid-June of 2013, when these thermal imaging cameras were being shipped from the United States to Mexico, Axis allegedly did not keep the required documents and invoices connected to these exports. The EAR requires companies to retain these transaction documents. Axis’ failure to do so, in addition to its thirteen charges of exporting without a required license, resulted in a civil penalty of $700,000 and an order to undergo an external audit of the company’s export controls compliance program. Axis was required to hire an unaffiliated third-party consultant with an expertise in U.S. export control laws to conduct the audit. The order, given June 9, 2017, stated the company would be put on an export denial list unless fine is paid as arranged and audit is completed with results submitted.

 

 

Cryomech Charged for Illegal Export to Russian Company on Entity List

By: Ashleigh Foor

Cryomech, Inc. of Syracuse, NY has received a charge involving its exports of  an LNP-20 Liquid Nitrogen Plant, an item classified as EAR99 in the EAR, from the United States to the All-Russian Scientific Research Institute of Experimental Physics (VNIIEF) a.k.a Russian Federal Nuclear Center-VNIIEF (RFNC-VNIIEF) in Sarov, Russia. Cryomech shipped this item, valued at $33,587, without the required BIS License on or around August 16, 2012. On June 9, 2017 the company received a civil penalty of $28,000 as well as an order to hire an unaffiliated third-party consultant with expertise in U.S. export control laws to complete an external audit of its entire export controls compliance program. Cryomech will not be debarred if penalty is paid and audit is completed with results submitted.

Settlement Documents: https://efoia.bis.doc.gov/index.php/documents/export-violations/export-violations-2015/1114-e2501/file

 

 

 

Trump Calls for Slight Rollback on Obama’s Slight Relaxations for Cuba

(Source: Reuters, 16 June 2017.)

President Donald Trump on Friday ordered tighter restrictions on Americans traveling to Cuba and a clampdown on U.S. business dealings with the island's military, saying "with God's help a free Cuba is what we will soon achieve."

As Trump laid out his new Cuba policy in a speech in Miami, the White House announced plans to roll back parts of former President Barack Obama's historic opening to the communist-ruled country after a 2014 diplomatic breakthrough between the two former Cold War foes. But Trump was leaving many of Obama's changes, including the reopened U.S. embassy in Havana, in place even as he sought to show he was making good on a campaign promise to take a tougher line against Cuba. "We will not be silent in the face of communist oppression any longer," Trump told a cheering crowd in Miami's Cuban-American enclave of Little Havana, including Republican Senator Marco Rubio, who helped forge the new restrictions on Cuba.

Trump's revised approach, which will be enshrined in a new presidential directive, calls for stricter enforcement of a longtime ban on Americans going to Cuba as tourists and seeks to prevent U.S. dollars from being used to fund what the new U.S. administration sees as a repressive military-dominated government.

But facing pressure from U.S. businesses and even some fellow Republicans to avoid turning back the clock completely in relations with communist-ruled Cuba, the Republican president chose to leave intact many of his Democratic predecessor's steps toward normalization. The new policy bans most U.S. business transactions with the Armed Forces Business Enterprises Group, a Cuban conglomerate involved in all sectors of the economy, but makes some exceptions, including for air and sea travel, according to U.S. officials. This will essentially shield U.S. airlines and cruise lines serving the island. However, Trump will stop short of breaking diplomatic relations restored in 2015 after more than five decades of hostilities. He will not cut off recently resumed direct U.S.-Cuba commercial flights or cruise-ship travel, though his more restrictive policy seems certain to dampen new economic ties overall.

The administration, according to one White House official, has no intention of "disrupting" existing business ventures such as one struck under Obama by Starwood Hotels Inc., which is owned by Marriott International Inc., to manage a historic Havana hotel. Nor does Trump plan to reinstate limits that Obama lifted on the amount of the island's coveted rum and cigars that Americans can bring home for personal use. While the changes are far-reaching, they appear to be less sweeping than many U.S. pro-engagement advocates had feared. Still, it will be the latest attempt by Trump to overturn parts of Obama's presidential legacy. He has already pulled the United States out of a major international climate treaty and is trying to scrap his predecessor's landmark healthcare program.

The following article provides OFAC’s recent FAQs regarding President Trump’s statement about Cuba.

 

 

Treasury/OFAC Publishes New Cuba-Related FAQs

(Source: Treasury/OFAC)    

Frequently Asked Questions on President Trump's Cuba Announcement

 

(1) How will OFAC implement the changes to the Cuba sanctions program announced by the President on June 16, 2017?  Are the changes effective immediately?

OFAC will implement the Treasury-specific changes via amendments to its Cuban Assets Control Regulations.  The Department of Commerce will implement any necessary changes via amendments to its Export Administration Regulations.  OFAC expects to issue its regulatory amendments in the coming months.  The announced changes do not take effect until the new regulations are issued.

 

(2) What is individual people-to-people travel, and how does the President's announcement impact this travel authorization?

Individual people-to-people travel is educational travel that: (i) does not involve academic study pursuant to a degree program; and (ii) does not take place under the auspices of an organization that is subject to U.S. jurisdiction that sponsors such exchanges to promote people-to-people contact.  The President instructed Treasury to issue regulations that will end individual people-to-people travel.  The announced changes do not take effect until the new regulations are issued.

 

(3) Will group people-to-people travel still be authorized?

Yes.  Group people-to-people travel is educational travel not involving academic study pursuant to a degree program that takes place under the auspices of an organization that is subject to U.S. jurisdiction that sponsors such exchanges to promote people-to-people contact.  Travelers utilizing this travel authorization must maintain a full-time schedule of educational exchange activities that are intended to enhance contact with the Cuban people, support civil society in Cuba, or promote the Cuban people's independence from Cuban authorities, and that will result in meaningful interaction between the traveler and individuals in Cuba.  An employee, consultant, or agent of the group must accompany each group to ensure that each traveler maintains a full-time schedule of educational exchange activities.  

 

(4) How do the changes announced by the President on June 16, 2017 affect individual people-to-people travelers who have already begun making their travel arrangements (such as purchasing flights, hotels, or rental cars)?

The announced changes do not take effect until OFAC issues new regulations.  Provided that the traveler has already completed at least one travel-related transaction (such as purchasing a flight or reserving accommodation) prior to the President's announcement on June 16, 2017, all additional travel-related transactions for that trip, whether the trip occurs before or after OFAC's new regulations are issued, would also be authorized, provided the travel-related transactions are consistent with OFAC's regulations as of June 16, 2017.

Department of the Treasury Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) 

 

(5) How do the changes announced by the President on June 16, 2017 affect other authorized travelers to Cuba whose travel arrangements may include direct transactions with entities related to the Cuban military, intelligence, or security services that may be implicated by the new Cuba policy?

The announced changes do not take effect until OFAC issues new regulations.  Consistent with the Administration's interest in not negatively impacting Americans for arranging lawful travel to Cuba, any travel-related arrangements that include direct transactions with entities related to the Cuban military, intelligence, or security services that may be implicated by the new Cuba policy will be permitted provided that those travel arrangements were initiated prior to the issuance of the forthcoming regulations.    

 

(6) How do the changes announced by the President on June 16, 2017 affect companies subject to U.S. jurisdiction that are already engaged in the Cuban market and that may undertake direct transactions with entities related to the Cuban military, intelligence, or security services that may be implicated by the new Cuba policy?

The announced changes do not take effect until OFAC issues new regulations.  Consistent with the Administration's interest in not negatively impacting American businesses for engaging in lawful commercial opportunities, any Cuba-related commercial engagement that includes direct transactions with entities related to the Cuban military, intelligence, or security services that may be implicated by the new Cuba policy will be permitted provided that those commercial engagements were in place prior to the issuance of the forthcoming regulations.    

 

(7) Does the new policy affect how persons subject to U.S jurisdiction may purchase airline tickets for authorized travel to Cuba?

No. The new policy will not change how persons subject to U.S. jurisdiction traveling to Cuba pursuant to the 12 categories of authorized travel may purchase their airline tickets. 

 

(8) Can I continue to send authorized remittances to Cuba?

Yes.  The announced policy changes will not change the authorizations for sending remittances to Cuba.  Additionally, the announced changes include an exception that will allow for transactions incidental to the sending, processing, and receipt of authorized remittances to the extent they would otherwise be restricted by the new policy limiting transactions with certain identified Cuban military, intelligence, or security services.  As a result, the restrictions on certain transactions in the new Cuba policy will not limit the ability to send or receive authorized remittances.

 

(9) How does the new policy impact other authorized travel to Cuba by persons subject to U.S. jurisdiction?

The new policy will not result in changes to the other (non-individual people-to-people) authorizations for travel.  Following the issuance of OFAC's regulatory changes, travel-related transactions with prohibited entities identified by the State Department generally will not be permitted. Guidance will accompany the issuance of the new regulations.

 

(10) How will the new policy impact existing OFAC specific licenses?

The forthcoming regulations will be prospective and thus will not affect existing contracts and licenses.  

 

(11) How will U.S. companies know if their Cuban counterpart is affiliated with a prohibited entity or sub-entity in Cuba?

The State Department will be publishing a list of entities with which direct transactions generally will not be permitted.  Guidance will accompany the issuance of the new regulations.  The announced changes do not take effect until the new regulations are issued.

 

(12) Is authorized travel by cruise ship or passenger vessel to Cuba impacted by the new Cuba policy? 

Persons subject to U.S. jurisdiction will still be able to engage in authorized travel to Cuba by cruise ship or passenger vessel. 

Following the issuance of OFAC's regulatory changes, travel-related transactions with prohibited entities identified by the State Department generally will not be permitted.  Guidance will accompany the issuance of the new regulations.

For more information on the National Security Presidential Memorandum visit: https://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2017/06/16/fact-sheet-cuba-policy.

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