Home / News / The Export Control Update: November 2017

Miltech, Inc. of Northampton, MA Receives 18 Charges of Alleged Export Violations

By: Ashleigh Foor

On September 25, 2017, Miltech, Inc. of Northampton, MA was charged a civil penalty of $230,000 due to engaging in conduct prohibited by the EAR when it exported items subject to the EAR from the United States to China and Russia without the required BIS Licenses. On eighteen separate occasions between, on, or around October 14, 2011 and July 14, 2014, Miltech exported active multiplier chains, items classified under Export Control Classification Number ("ECCN") 3A001.b.4 and valued in total at approximately $364,947, without seeking or obtaining the licenses required for these exports pursuant to section 742.4 of the EAR. These items are controlled on national security and anti-terrorism grounds.

Miltech received 18 charges of 15 C.F.R. § 764.2(a) for engaging in prohibited conduct. $180,000 of the $230,000 penalty must be paid within 30 days, and the remaining $50,000 will be suspended and waived after two years if Miltech fulfills the terms of its settlement agreement and this order.  The company will not be debarred if penalty is paid as agreed and Miltech complies with other terms of this settlement.

 

 

Tips on How to Resolve AES Fatal Errors

(Source: census@subscriptions.census.gov, 19 Oct 2017.)

When a shipment is filed to the AES, a system response message is generated and indicates whether the shipment has been accepted or rejected. If the shipment is accepted, the AES filer receives an Internal Transaction Number (ITN) as confirmation. However, if the shipment is rejected, a Fatal Error notification is received.

To help you resolve AES Fatal Errors, here are some tips on how to correct the most frequent errors that were generated in AES for this month.

Fatal Error Response Code: 128

  • Narrative: Port of Export Unknown
  • Reason: The Port of Export Code reported is not valid in AES.
  • Resolution: The Port of Export Code must be valid in AES. Valid Port of Export Codes reportable in AES are contained in Appendix D - Export Port Codes. Verify the Port of Export Code, correct the shipment and resubmit.

Fatal Error Response Code: 147

  • Narrative: Routed Export Indicator Missing
  • Reason: The Routed Export Indicator is missing.
  • Resolution: A routed export transaction is a transaction in which the Foreign Principal Party in Interest (FPPI) authorizes a U.S. agent to facilitate the export of items from the United States and to prepare and file Electronic Export Information (EEI). You must report the Routed Export Indicator as Yes or No. Verify whether or not this is a routed export transaction, correct the shipment and resubmit.

For a complete list of Fatal Error Response Codes, their reasons, and resolutions, see Appendix A - Commodity Filing Response Messages.

It is important that AES filers correct Fatal Errors as soon as they are received in order to comply with the Foreign Trade Regulations. These errors must be corrected prior to export for shipments filed predeparture and as soon as possible for shipments filed postdeparture but not later than five calendar days after departure.

For further information or questions, contact the U.S. Census Bureau's Data Collection Branch

 

 

Impact of President Trump's Iran Policy Announcement: No Changes for Now, but the Future of the JCPOA Remains Uncertain

By: Glen Kelley, Doug Jacobson, Michael Burton & David Brummond Jacobson Burton Kelley PLLC

www.jbktradelaw.com

On October 13, 2017 President Trump announced the long-awaited results of his Administration's Iran policy review. The key aspect of the announcement was that President Trump will not renew certification of Iranian compliance with the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (“JCPOA”) as required by the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act of 2015 (“INARA”), a law passed by the US Congress to provide oversight of the JCPOA. President Trump stated that his decision was made because Iran "has committed multiple violations of the JCPOA" and "has not lived up to the spirit of the agreement." 

President Trump also stated that he will "terminate" US participation in the JCPOA unless the parties to the JCPOA agree to make various changes to the JCPOA and that he will request the US Congress to modify INARA to reflect the Administration's concerns. Following President Trump's announcement, OFAC designated the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps ("IRGC") as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist (SDGT) as required by Congress in a law passed in August 2017. While there has been much discussion on the designation of the IRGC as a SDGT, in practice the designation was purely symbolic as the IRGC has been listed on OFAC's Specially Designated National List since 2007 under various Executive Orders.  

Though significant, these announcements do not trigger any changes in the status of the JCPOA or to existing US sanctions. 

Following the President's announcement, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson indicated that staying in the JCPOA "was in the best interests of the US." In addition, Treasury Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Sigal Mandelker said yesterday that it "is important not to confuse the internal US legal process of certification under INARA with our continued implementation of the JCPOA."

President Trump's decision not to certify Iran's compliance with the JCPOA under Inara now shifts the burden to the US Congress, which could in the coming months reimpose some or all of the secondary sanctions on Iran that were waived on January 16, 2016 when the JCPOA was implemented. In addition, President Trump could in the future refuse to waive the secondary sanctions on Iran that remain suspended and could direct OFAC to terminate OFAC General License H. 

While the US position on Iran should become clearer in the coming months, President Trump's continued criticism of the JCPOA increases the uncertainty regarding (1) the future of US sanctions relief that was a key part of the nuclear agreement with Iran, and (2) whether non-US companies will continue to be able to conduct business with Iran without fear or being subject to US sanctions. 

Increased Risk of US Withdrawal from JCPOA and "Snap-Back" of US Sanctions on Iran 

It is important to recall that the US has suspended only a small portion of its Iran sanctions for US companies (relating to commercial aircraft), and "US persons" remain prohibited from nearly all transactions involving Iran or its government. 

Nearly all of the suspended US sanctions were “secondary” sanctions primarily directed at non-US companies and individuals. The recent events increase the risk of reimposition or "snap-back" of US sanctions, which could be done in one of the following ways:

1. Reimposition of Sanctions Within Next 60 Days – Once the President fails to certify Iran's compliance with the JCPOA, Congress can pass "qualifying legislation" under INARA in 60 days choosing to reimpose all or some of the Iranian sanctions that have been suspended. However, there does not appear to be significant interest by Congress to proceed in this direction at this time and it is not likely that the necessary votes can be obtained to proceed under this route. 

2. Contingent Future Sanctions – Another scenario that is being contemplated by congressional leadership (the Corker-Cotton proposal) is to amend INARA to automatically reimpose US sanctions on Iran’s nuclear program in the future if Iran crosses key thresholds. Among the thresholds being considered is if weapons-grade nuclear material accumulates to the point where there is less than a one-year “breakout” period for obtaining a nuclear weapon. 

3. Failure to Waive Suspended Sanctions – Under the JCPOA the President must waive the various sanctions that were suspended. Depending on the underlying law, these waivers must be renewed every 120 days to every six months. It is possible that the Trump Administration could simply choose not to renew one or more of the waivers, which would automatically reimpose the US sanctions. The next waiver deadline is in mid-January 2018. Such action would not require congressional approval and would effectively snap-back sanctions on Iran. 

4. Unilateral Withdrawal from JCPOA – The JCPOA does not specifically authorize any party to the agreement to “withdraw." However, the US could choose to cease implementing its commitments under the agreement, which would effectively lead to US abrogation of the JCPOA. 

Next Steps and Practical Impact

Because the JCPOA is a multilateral arrangement, a decision by the US to withdraw from the agreement or to reimpose sanctions would have significant ramifications. Iran has threatened to stop complying with its commitments to curtail its nuclear program if the US reimposes sanctions. The costs of Iran’s reinitiating its nuclear program, however, could undercut the sanctions relief it has received from trading partners other than the US. The EU has made clear that if the suspended US sanctions are reimposed, the EU intends to continue to abide by the terms of the JCPOA so long as Iran does. If US sanctions are reimposed, the EU member states would likely support their companies in their Iranian activity and would strongly oppose any US government move to penalize them under reimposed sanctions. There is also the possibility that the EU would expand its sanctions blocking legislation (sometimes referred to in the EU as antiboycott laws) to cover US secondary sanctions on Iran. If Iran stopped complying with the JCPOA, the EU member states would likely withdraw their support for their companies’ activities in Iran, and might even move to the dispute resolution procedures of the JCPOA or a UN Security Council review, which could lead to the reimposition of EU sanctions. 

While we are currently in uncharted waters and are dealing with an unpredictable US Administration, the following is a summary of the possible changes to impact on the JCPOA and US sanctions:

1. Incremental non-nuclear additional sanctions are likely, but the reimposition of the suspended US secondary sanctions or other major changes in the near future seem unlikely at this time. It is important to recall that there have been no immediate changes to US sanctions on Iran.

2. The Trump Administration could terminate US participation in the JCPOA and reimpose sanctions in the future, if insufficient progress is made with the parties to the JCPOA to address certain concerns relating to Iran. There are early indications that EU leaders might try to find a way to provide these additional assurances from Iran regarding their activities of concern. 

3. The US could reimpose the suspended secondary (extraterritorial) sanctions. While appearing dramatic, this may not have much practical impact on many non-US companies. Moreover, if discreet secondary (extraterritorial) sanctions are "snapped-back", it seems likely the EU and its member states would defend EU-based companies from the adverse economic consequences of a reimposition of sanctions.  

4. If US sanctions are reimposed, there is reason to believe that Iran, after protesting, would continue to abide by its JCPOA commitments, particularly if it remains clear that the EU and other countries involved in the JCPOA intend to continue to abide by its terms and authorize business with Iran. Of course it is possible that Iran would follow through on its threat to pull out, and this likely would have a more dramatic practical impact.

Whatever the outcome, the OFAC policy that authorizes the export of US-origin humanitarian products to Iran, including medicine, medical devices, and agricultural products, will remain unchanged, just as it was during the height of US sanctions. However, payments for these transactions remains difficult due to the reluctance of many non-US banks to handle Iran-related payments. 

 

 

Whirlpool Europe Srl (Italy)/Whirlpool Corporation to Pay Civil Settlements to Settle Alleged Antiboycott Violations

By: Ashleigh Foor (Source: Commerce/BIS)

On September 25, 2017, Whirlpool Europe Srl (Italy) was charged with three violations of 15 CFR 760.2(a), refusal to do business, ten violations of 15 CFR 760.2(d), furnishing information about business relationships with boycotted countries or blacklisted persons, and eight violations of 15 CFR 760.5, failing to report the receipt of a request to engage in a restrictive trade practice or foreign boycott against a country friendly to the United States (Case No: 14-02(A)). A civil settlement of $72,450, if paid as agreed, will keep Whirlpool from being debarred or suspended from export transactions.

Related case number 14-02(B) involves Whirlpool Corporation. The company received a civil settlement of $9,000 for three violations of 15 CFR 760.2(d), furnishing information about business relationships with boycotted countries or blacklisted persons. No debarment or suspension will be placed if penalty is paid as agreed.

 

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