Home / News / The Export Control Update: September 2017

 

Treasury Fingers Countries Enforcing the Arab League Boycott of Israel

Editorial By: John Black

Note:  I love this list.  It gives me a chance to say tertiary.   As my career winds down its things like this that I will miss.

N.B.:  I don’t remember ever seeing anybody write an editorial piece about Treasury publishing this list, probably for good reason.  If I don’t do this now, nobody ever will. 

Once again the Treasury Department has published its list of countries that more or less enforce certain aspects of the Arab League Boycott of Israel. Or, as Treasury clearly states, they are countries “which may require participation in, or cooperation with, an international boycott (within the meaning of section 999(b)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986).”

You see, way back whenever, the US Congress decided it doesn’t like US persons cooperating with the secondary and tertiary elements of the Arab Boycott of Israel so it told the Treasury Department to put something in the tax code so that US person who illegally cooperate can’t claim foreign tax credits. Congress also told the Commerce Department to put something in its export control regulations so the Commerce rules make such cooperation illegal without telling anybody which countries it applies to. 

You see, Congress and the US Government don’t want to have actual rules that say Arab League Boycott of Israel to make it clear that US person can’t cooperate with the unmentionable boycott on the unmentionable close ally of the United States.  Because, what the wizards* in Washington figured out is, if they don’t write little known rules that ban cooperation with the “Arab Boycott of Israel,” nobody will know that US foreign policy in many ways has long favored Israel over the Arab League. 

(*Sorry, I did not mean to disparage indirectly the Washington Wizards NBA basketball team but this raises an important issue.  Years ago the Washington Bullets NBA team decided to change their name to the Washington Wizards. I always knew that they dropped the Bullets name to reduce violent crime in the capital city (how is that working?)  But, after wondering for years why the Washington team chose “Wizards,” I just now realized it is because most of the people in Congress and the US Government are wizards—either, if you are old like me, the type of wizards who wear pointy hats and robes with stars on them and have a magic wand or, if you are not old, those in Harry Potter movies; or, if you ask Congress, the type of wizards who are generally highly adept at what they do.  Now that’s another life knowledge breakthrough thanks to export regs.)

Treasury noted that this list is “based on currently available information,” which, I personally found to be a great relief because if the list had been based on only information available prior to 1975, it would have looked quite different.  And who knows what the list would have looked like if it were based on information that is not currently available—We could have ended up with Mexico and China on the list, seriously.

FYI, this paragraph contains information that is important:  Treasury listed these countries:

  • Iraq
  • Kuwait
  • Lebanon
  • Libya
  • Qatar
  • Saudi Arabia
  • Syria
  • United Arab Emirates
  • Yemen

The Commerce Department traditionally does not publish a similar list of countries for its antiboycott rules in Part 760 of the Export Administration Regulations (“EAR”).  EAR 760 prohibits a US person from cooperating with (or agreeing to do so) the secondary and tertiary elements of the Arab League boycott of Israel.  Instead of ever mentioning the Arab League or Israel, Commerce and the EAR brandish the terms “boycotting countries” and “boycotted countries” to adeptly hide the US pro-Israel foreign policy bias. 

A reasonable person might assume that since the Commerce and Treasury rules have the same objective and are implemented by the same US Government, the Commerce Department considers its rules are applicable to the same countries as Treasury. 

Editorial Note: I am not saying that the EAR rules are limited to the list of countries Treasury published. I am merely pointing out what a reasonable person might assume.

Useful Information:  In any event, when you do a risk based assessment of your EAR compliance issues and, based on that, decide how to allocate your limited compliance resources, it may be cost-effective to focus your EAR antiboycott rules compliance on the countries on the Treasury list.  And while you are doing risk assessments and deciding how to cost-effectively allocate your limited resources for EAR compliance, you may decide to allocate only a small portion of your total EAR compliance resources to compliance with the EAR antiboycott rules.  That is because antiboycott EAR fines are frequently well under $100k.  I recommend you allocate most of your EAR compliance resources to focus on compliance with the standard EAR export controls where it is not unusual for Commerce (along with OFAC) to impose fines of hundreds of millions of dollars, or in the case of ZTE, $1 billion and membership on an export denial list.

Federal Register: https://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2017-08-02/pdf/2017-16290.pdf

 

 

CSE Global Limited and CSE TransTel Pte. Ltd. Pay Settlement for Apparent Violations Involving Iranian Companies

By: Ashleigh Foor

A solely-owned subsidiary of CSE Global Limited (an international technology group), CSE TransTel Pte. Ltd., appears to have violated § 1705 (a) of IEEPA and § 560.203 of the ITSR and has agreed to pay a $12,027,066 settlement for the apparent 104 violations of the International Emergency Economic Powers Act 1 (IEEPA) and the Iranian Transactions and Sanctions Regulations, 31 C.F.R. part 560 (ITSR). The apparent violations occurred on or around June 4, 2012 through March 27, 2013 when TransTel appears to have involved at least six different financial institutions in the unauthorized exportation or re-exportation of services from the United States to Iran, a prohibition of § 560.204 of the ITSR.

OFAC concluded that TransTel did not voluntarily make known these apparent violations, which OFAC found to be grounds for a serious case. The maximum and base civil monetary penalty for the apparent violations was $38,181,161.

TransTel first signed contracts with and received purchase orders from Iranian companies starting August 25, 2010 through November 5, 2011. The purchase orders were for multiple energy projects taking place in Iran and/or Iranian territory. In order to carry out the orders to deliver and install telecommunications equipment, TransTel hired several Iranian companies to deliver these goods and services on its behalf.

Preceding these interactions with Iranian companies, CSE Global and TransTel opened separate Singapore bank accounts (the “Bank”). Then-Managing Director and CSE Global's then-Group Chief Executive Officer signed and sent a letter titled “Sanctions – Letter of Undertaking” to the Bank with the following statement: "In consideration of [the Bank] agreeing to continue providing banking services in Singapore to our company, we, CSE TransTel Pte. Ltd ... hereby undertake not to route any transactions related to Iran through [the Bank], whether in Singapore or elsewhere."  The Bank continued to provide financial services to the company after receiving the Letter of Undertaking and around June 2012, less than two months after the Letter of Undertaking was delivered, TransTel began transferring USD funds related to its Iranian business.

On or around the dates of June 4, 2012 to March 27, 2013 Transtel appears to have violated § 1705 (a) of IEEPA and/or § 560.203 of the ITSR when it initiated 104 USD wire transfers totaling more than $11,111,000 involving Iran. Transfers from the Bank went to several different third-party contacts including Iranian vendors. There was never any mention of Iran, the Iranian projects, or any Iranian parties on documentations involved in these transactions.

The settlement amount reflects OFAC's consideration of the following facts and circumstances, pursuant to the General Factors under OFAC's Economic Sanctions Enforcement Guidelines, 31 C.F.R. part 501, app. A. OFAC considered the following to be aggravating factors:

  (1) TransTel willfully and recklessly caused apparent violations of U.S. economic sanctions by engaging in, and systematically obfuscating, conduct it knew to be prohibited, including by materially misrepresenting to its bank that it would not route Iran-related business through the bank's branch in Singapore or elsewhere, and by engaging in a pattern or practice that lasted for 10 months;

  (2) TransTel's then-senior management had actual knowledge of - and played an active role in - the conduct underlying the apparent violations;

  (3) TransTel's actions conveyed significant economic benefit to Iran and/or persons on OFAC's List of Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons by processing dozens of transactions through the U.S. financial system that totaled $11,111,812 and benefited Iran's oil, gas, and power industries; and

  (4) TransTel is a commercially sophisticated company that engages in business in multiple countries.

 

OFAC considered the following to be mitigating factors:

  (1) TransTel has not received a penalty notice, Finding of Violation, or cautionary letter from OFAC in the five years preceding the date of the earliest transaction giving rise to the apparent violations;

  (2) TransTel and CSE Global have undertaken remedial steps to ensure compliance with U.S. sanctions programs; and

  (3) TransTel and CSE Global provided substantial cooperation during the course of OFAC's investigation, including by submitting detailed information to OFAC in an organized manner, and responding to several inquiries in a complete and timely fashion.

This enforcement action reflects compliance obligations for all companies that conduct business in OFAC-sanctioned jurisdictions or process transactions through or related in any way to the United States. Prior to signing agreement letters, representatives should be certain they and their company are willing and able to abide by rules set forth.

 

 

Repeal of Pratt & Whitney Canada Corporation’s Statutory Debarment

By: Ashleigh Foor

As of July 12, 2017, the statutory debarment of Pratt & Whitney Canada Corporation has been lifted and the company reinstated, according to the Department’s authorities under the Arms Export Control Act and the International Traffic in Arms Regulations.

In June 2012, Pratt & Whitney Canada Corporation plead guilty to violating the AECA (US District Court, District of Connecticut, 12-CR-146-WWE), making the company statutorily debarred in accordance with section 120.1 of the ITAR with certain exceptions, pursuant to section 127.7(b). Section 38(g)(4) of the AECA, 22 U.S.C. 2778(g)(4) prohibits any party that has violated the AECA from issuing export licenses or other approvals for the export of defense articles or services. The notice debarring Pratt & Whitney Canada Corporation in all its locations was published in the Federal Register July 6, 2012.

According to section 127.7 of the ITAR, a statutory debarment may be repealed once appropriate US agencies concur that the violating company has taken appropriate steps to alleviate any law enforcement concerns. The Department of State consulted with other US agencies and concluded that Pratt & Whitney Canada Corporation has appropriately addressed the causes of violations and mitigated any law enforcement concerns.

Effective July 12, 2017, the statutory debarment is removed and Pratt & Whitney Canada Corporation may now participate in any activities subject to the ITAR , in accordance with section 38(g)(4) of the AECA and sections 127.7(b) and 127.11(b) of the ITAR.

 

 

BIS Implements Updates to Improve SNAP-R for License Application Submissions

By: Ashleigh Foor

Per the request of the export controls industry, BIS has designed new updates for the Single Network Application Process-Redesign (SNAP-R), BIS's electronic system for the submission of license applications, commodity classification requests, License Exception AGR notifications, and License Exception STA eligibility requests. This will be the first in a series of updates meant to make SNAP­-­R more user-friendly and efficient. Additional updates will be implemented in the future.

Included in the new updates is the introduction of security questions. Before this update, SNAP-R users would have to request assistance from SNAP-R account administrators or BIS to reset login IDs and passwords and to receive a reminder of their company identification number (CIN). Starting now, all new SNAP-R registrants will be required to provide answers to four of ten security questions as part of the registration process. Moving forward, the security questions put into place will identify and help users retrieve information on their own. Existing users will be prompted to choose security questions and answers at their next login.

Other changes include:

  • Work Item Reference Numbers: SNAP-R account holders are no longer limited to the previously required format (i.e., AAA####) for Work Item reference numbers.

  • Line Item Value Calculation: When listing the information for an export item on a license application, SNAP-R account holders can now choose to calculate the value of the item by multiplying the unit value by the quantity of items or to enter the total price of the item independent of the item's quantity and unit value.

Other SNAP-R Features: Did you know that SNAP-R:

  • Can be used on browsers other than Internet Explorer®?

  • Has a spell check function?

  • Allows a previously created Work Item (e.g., a license application) to be used again when preparing a new Work Item for submission?

The SNAP-R manual has been revised and updated to incorporate the changes above as well as to clarify the tools available to SNAP-R system users. (https://www.bis.doc.gov/snap-r-updates)

 

 

ACE System Experiences Technical Issues

By: Ashleigh Foor

On August 2, 2017, trade filers experienced technical issues using the ACE System. Users were advised to retransmit any messages (manifest, entry and summary) transmitted between 07:00 ET and 09:00 ET that did not receive a response or received an error message.

Because of the ACE system issues, CBP allowed an extra day without penalty on a national basis for any late filed entry summaries and payments that were due August 2, 2017.

At around 21:00 ET August 2, 2017, the ACE System was restored for ACE Portal functionality, as well as all ACE EDI message processing for all modes of transportation of Manifest (including Truck), ACE Cargo Release, ACE Entry Summary and ABI Queries. Statement processing and other Automated Commercial System (ACS) applications were not impacted by the ACE issue.

As of 11:30 ET August 3, 2017, the ACE System continued to be stable and processes operating normally.

More Information: https://apps.cbp.gov/csms/viewmssg.asp?Recid=22853&page=&srch_argv=17-000451&srchtype=all&btype=&sortby=&sby=

 

 

DHS/CBP Updates Harmonized Tariff Schedule in the Automated Export System

(Source: census@subscriptions.census.gov)

Effective immediately, all recent additions to the Harmonized Tariff Schedule ("HTS") are now available for use in the Automated Export System ("AES"). There were no additions to the Schedule B.

The ACE AESDirect program has been updated with these new HTS codes.

The full 2017 Schedule B and HTS tables are available for downloading here and the current list of HTS codes that are not valid for AES can be found here.

For further information or questions, contact the U.S. Census Bureau's International Trade Indicator Micro Analysis Branch. Telephone: (800) 549-0595, select option 2 for International Trade Indicator Micro Analysis Branch.

 

 

Treasury/OFAC Announces Settlement Agreement With IPSA International Services, Inc.

(Source: https://www.treasury.gov/resource-center/sanctions/OFAC-Enforcement/Pages/OFAC-Recent-Actions.aspx)

IPSA International Services, Inc. of Phoenix, Arizona agreed to settle its potential civil liability for 72 apparent violations of the Iranian Transactions and Sanctions Regulations, 31 C.F.R. part 560 (ITSR). The U.S. Department of the Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) announced IPSA’s settlement of $259,200 on August 7, 2017. The apparent violations include, on 44 separate occasions, IPSA's importation of Iranian-origin services into the United States in apparent violation of § 560.201 of the ITSR, and on 28 separate occasions, IPSA's engagement in transactions or dealings related to Iranian-origin services by approving and facilitating its foreign subsidiaries' payments to providers of Iranian-origin services in apparent violation of §§ 560.206 and 560.208 of the ITSR.  OFAC concluded that IPSA did not voluntarily disclose these apparent violations, and that the apparent violations constitute a non-egregious case.

OFAC's web notice is included below.

ENFORCEMENT INFORMATION FOR AUGUST 10, 2017

Information concerning the civil penalties process can be found in the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) regulations governing each sanctions program; the Reporting, Procedures, and Penalties Regulations, 31 C.F.R. part 501; and the Economic Sanctions Enforcement Guidelines, 31 C.F.R. part 501, app. A. These references, as well as recent final civil penalties and enforcement information, can be found on OFAC's website.

ENTITIES - 31 CFR 501.805(d)(1)(i)

IPSA International Services, Inc. Settles Potential Civil Liability for Apparent Violations of the Iranian Transactions and Sanctions Regulations: IPSA International Services, Inc. (IPSA), Phoenix, Arizona, has agreed to pay $259,200 to settle its potential civil liability for 72 apparent violations of the Iranian Transactions and Sanctions Regulations, 31 C.F.R. part 560 (ITSR). [FN/1] The apparent violations involve, on 44 separate occasions, IPSA's importation of Iranian-origin services into the United States in apparent violation of § 560.201 of the ITSR, and on 28 separate occasions, IPSA's engagement in transactions or dealings related to Iranian-origin services by approving and facilitating its foreign subsidiaries' payments to providers of Iranian- origin services in apparent violation of §§ 560.206 and 560.208 of the ITSR.

OFAC determined that IPSA did not voluntarily disclose the apparent violations, and that the apparent violations constitute a non-egregious case. The total transaction value of the apparent violations was $290,784. The statutory maximum civil penalty amount in this case was $18,000,000, and the base civil penalty amount was $720,000.

IPSA is a global business investigative and regulatory risk mitigation firm that provides due diligence services for various countries and their citizenship by investment programs. In March 2012, IPSA entered into an engagement letter and fee agreement with a third country with respect to its citizenship by investment program ("Contract No. 1"). In October 2012, IPSA's subsidiary in Vancouver, Canada ("IPSA Canada") entered into a similar contract with a government-owned financial institution in a separate third country ("Contract No. 2"). While the majority of the applicants to both of these programs were nationals from countries not subject to OFAC sanctions, some were Iranian nationals. Since most of the information about Iranian applicants could not be checked or verified by sources outside Iran, IPSA Canada and IPSA's subsidiary in Dubai, United Arab Emirates subsequently hired subcontractors to conduct the necessary due diligence in Iran, and those subcontractors in turn hired third parties to validate information that could only be obtained or verified within Iran. Although it was IPSA's foreign subsidiaries that managed and performed both Contract No. 1 and Contract No. 2, with regard to Contract No. 1, IPSA appears to have imported Iranian-origin services into the United States because the foreign subsidiaries conducted the due diligence in Iran on behalf of and for the benefit of IPSA. With regard to Contract No. 2, IPSA also appears to have engaged in transactions or dealings related to Iranian-origin services and facilitated the foreign subsidiaries' engagement in such transactions or dealings because IPSA reviewed, approved, and initiated the foreign subsidiaries' payments to providers of the Iranian-origin services.

The settlement amount reflects OFAC's consideration of the following facts and circumstances, pursuant to the General Factors under OFAC's Economic Sanctions Enforcement Guidelines, 31 C.F.R. part 501, app. A. OFAC considered the following to be aggravating factors: (1) IPSA failed to exercise a minimal degree of caution or care when it imported background investigation services of Iranian origin into the United States and when it reviewed, approved, and initiated its foreign subsidiaries' payments to providers of Iranian-origin services, and the frequency and duration of the apparent violations constitute a pattern or practice of conduct; (2) at least one of IPSA's senior management knew or had reason to know that it was importing and/or engaging in transactions or dealings related to services of Iranian origin; (3) the transactions giving rise to the apparent violations resulted in economic benefits to Iran, and the conduct underlying the apparent violations is not eligible for OFAC authorization under existing licensing policy [FN/2]; (4) IPSA is a commercially sophisticated company operating internationally with experience in U.S. sanctions; and (5) IPSA's OFAC compliance program was ineffective in that it did not recognize or react to the risks presented by engaging in transactions that involved Iranian-origin background investigation services.

OFAC considered the following to be mitigating factors: (1) IPSA has no prior OFAC sanctions history in the five years preceding the earliest date of the transactions giving rise to the apparent violations; (2) IPSA undertook significant remedial measures by taking swift action to cease the prohibited activities, conducting an investigation to discover the causes and extent of the apparent violations, and adopting new internal controls and procedures to prevent reoccurrence of the apparent violations; and (3) IPSA substantially cooperated with OFAC's investigation by conducting an internal look-back investigation for potential sanctions violations and submitting an investigation report to OFAC without receiving an administrative subpoena, promptly providing detailed additional information and documentation in a well-organized manner in response to OFAC's multiple requests for information, and entering into a statute of limitations tolling agreement.

For more information regarding OFAC regulations, please go here.

 

 

BIS Revises CCL and Corresponding EAR Parts to Implement WA 2016 Plenary Agreements 

By: Ashleigh Foor

A final ruling by the Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) revises the Commerce Control List (CCL) and corresponding parts of the Export Administration Regulations (EAR) to implement changes made to the Wassenaar Arrangement List of Dual-Use Goods and Technologies (WA List). The CCL identifies certain items subject to Department of Commerce jurisdiction and is maintained, as part of its EAR, by the BIS. These changes were agreed to by governments participating in the Wassenaar Arrangement on Export Controls for Conventional Arms and Dual-Use Goods and Technologies at the December 2016 WA Plenary meeting. The objective of The Wassenaar Arrangement is to improve regional and international security and stability by implementing effective export controls on strategic items. This rule revises the Export Control Classification Numbers (ECCNs), controlled for national security reasons in each category of the CCL, to match the CCL with the agreements reached at the 2016 Plenary meeting. Any associated changes were also made to the EAR.

As of August 15, 2017, the following is to be expected:  (1) The effective date for amendatory instruction 30 (ECCN 4A003 in Supplement No. 1 to part 774) is September 25, 2017; and (2) the effective date for amendatory instruction 2 (Sec.  740.7 of the EAR) is November 24, 2017.

Background:

The Wassenaar Arrangement on Export Controls for Conventional Arms and Dual-Use Goods and Technologies is a group of 41 governments that believe in promoting responsibility and transparency in the global arms trade, and want to prevent destabilizing accumulations of arms. As a Participating State, the United States has committed to controlling for export all items on the WA control lists. The lists were first created in 1996 and have been reviewed and updated annually thereafter. Proposals for changes to the WA control lists that generate consensus are approved by Participating States at annual Plenary meetings. Participating States are expected to abide by the agreed list changes as soon as possible after approval. By implementing the WA list changes, the US ensures they have a level playing field with their competitors in other WA Participating States.

Revisions to the Commerce Control List Related to WA 2016 Plenary Agreements:

Revises (50) ECCNs: 1A004, 1A007, 1B001, 1C007, 1C608, 1E001, 1E002, 2A001, 2B001, 2B005, 2B991, 2D992, 2E003, 3A001, 3A002, 3A991, 3B001, 3C001, 3E001, 3E002, 3E003, 4A003, 4D001, 4D993, 5A001, 5B001, 5E001, 5A002, 5A003, 5D002, 5E002, 6A001, 6A003, 6A005, 6A008, 6D003, 6E003, 7D003, 7D004, 7E001, 7E003, 7E004, 8A002, 8C001, 9A001, 9A004, 9A515, 9B002, 9B009 and 9E003.

License Exception eligibility additions: 3A001.b.12 to LVS, and 3A001.a.14 to GBS.

License Exception eligibility expansion: TSR and STA for ECCNs 4D001 and 4E001.

Saving Clause:

Shipments of items that were removed from license exception eligibility or eligibility for export, reexport, or transfer (in-country) without a license as a result of this regulatory action that were already en route aboard a carrier or on dock for loading on August 15, 2017 may proceed to that destination under the previous license exception eligibility or without a license as long as they have been exports, reexports, or transfers (in-country) before October 16, 2017.

Federal Register: https://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2017-08-15/pdf/2017-16904.pdf

 

 

Updated ACE AESTIR Appendices Posted on CBP.gov

Source: CSMS# 17-000481, 10 Aug 2017

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has updated three Automated Export System Trade

Interface Requirements (AESTIR) Appendices posted on CBP.gov/ACE. The updated appendices include:

  • Appendix A – Commodity Filing Response Messages 

        

Updated the narrative text and Reason for response code 178

From:

Response Code: 178

Narrative Text: S94 ONLY DOCS TO BE PRVD TO CBP: <License Type/Number>

Severity: INFORMATIONAL

Proprietary Record ID/Data Elements: Input CL2 Record/Export License Number/ CFR Citation/Authorization Symbol/KPC#

X.12 Segment ID/Data Elements: X102; X103

Reason: The DDTC S94 License has been accepted and the filer is instructed to present the original license to CBP prior to export

Resolution: Informational. Paper documents to be provided to CBP.

To:

Response Code: 178

Narrative Text: ONLY S94 LCNS TO BE PRVD TO CBP: <License Type/Number>

Severity: INFORMATIONAL

Proprietary Record ID/Data Elements: Input CL2 Record/Export License Number/ CFR Citation/Authorization Symbol/KPC#

X.12 Segment ID/Data Elements: X102; X103

Reason: The license has been accepted.  Filers are instructed to present the original license to CBP prior to export for DDTC S94 licenses only.  All other DDTC licenses are not required to be presented to CBP. 

Resolution: Informational. Paper documents to be provided to CBP.

&#61485;        

https://www.cbp.gov/document/guidance/aestir-appendix-commodity-filing-response-messages

 

  • Appendix X – HTS and Schedule B Codes for PGAs

Added the following HTS codes for the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA)

3810100000

3004909225

3004909228

3004909235

3208900000

3402905050

3815905000

3910000000

https://www.cbp.gov/document/guidance/ace-aestir-appendix-x-hts-codes-pgas

 

  • Appendix D – Export Port Codes

 

At the request of the CBP Office of Field Operations, the following port codes have been removed from the appendix.

2813 - Alameda, CA

2872 - TNT Skypak

https://www.cbp.gov/document/guidance/appendix-d-export-port-codes

To access the updated AESTIR appendices, please visit the “AESTIR Introduction and Guidelines” page of CBP.gov/ACE, and click on “AESTIR Appendices”. You may also copy and paste the above URLs to your internet browser.

 

 

Expanded Russia, Iran, and North Korea Sanctions: Top 10 Takeaways

(Source: Latham & Watkins LLP)

Authors: Les P. Carnegie, Esq., les.carnegie@lw.com, 202-637-1096; and William M. McGlone, Esq., william.mcglone@lw.com, 202-637-2202

President Trump signs the "Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act," which - among other measures - requires Congressional review to ease Russia-related sanctions.

On Wednesday, August 2, 2017, President Trump signed into law the Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (the Act). The Act significantly expands and codifies US sanctions targeting Russia, and it adds several measures to the already comprehensive US sanctions on Iran and North Korea. The Act passed both houses of Congress last week, with a vote of 419-3 in the House of Representatives and 98-2 in the Senate.

The Act is particularly significant because it codifies many of the Russia-related sanctions measures introduced by President Obama through executive orders, effectively requiring President Trump to secure Congressional approval before easing the targeted US sanctions relating to Russia. Russian President Vladimir Putin has announced his intention to impose retaliatory sanctions in response to the Act, and the Russian Foreign Ministry reportedly ordered a more than 60% cut in US diplomatic staff and suspended use of two US facilities in Russia.

Here are the top 10 takeaways from the Act:

RUSSIA-RELATED SANCTIONS

(1) Codifying and Expanding Existing Sanctions.

The Act codifies the following Executive Orders issued by President Obama: Executive Orders 1366013661136621368513694, and 13757. Among other measures, these Executive Orders imposed a virtual embargo on the Crimea region of Ukraine; imposed sanctions against perpetrators of malicious cyber activity and designated Russian and Ukrainian individuals, including government officials and oligarchs; and provided the underlying authority for Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) Directive 1Directive 2Directive 3, and Directive 4.

The first three OFAC Directives prohibit US persons from extending medium- to long-term credit, or otherwise dealing in "new" debt (and in some cases "new" equity), of designated Russian financial institutions, energy firms, and companies in the defense sector. Directive 4 prohibits US persons from providing goods, software, technology, and services in support of certain non-conventional oil projects in Russia.

The Act expands certain of these Executive Orders and Directives:

* The Act gives the US Treasury Secretary the power to impose sanctions pursuant to Executive Order 13662, including the financing-type sanctions found in the OFAC Directives, against state-owned parties in Russia in the railways, metals, and mining sectors of the Russian economy. Prior to the Act, the targeted sectors were limited to the financial, energy, and defense sectors.

* No later than 60 days after enactment of the Act (or approximately the beginning of October), the US Treasury Secretary must modify Directive 1 to reduce the "new" debt prohibition to 14 days, down from the current 30 days, and Directive 2 from the current 90 days to 60 days. These 14-day and 60-day changes will be effective 60 days after the Directives are modified, which provides some time for US parties to adjust to this change. Notably, current OFAC interpretation (see OFAC FAQ # 419) is that extending payment terms of more than 30 days to a Directive 1 target violates the "new debt" prohibition, meaning that payment terms to Directive 1 parties will need to be reduced to no more than two weeks. The same is the case with respect to Directive 2 targets, for which the payment term requirement will be reduced to 60 days.

  - The Act also requires the US Treasury Secretary to, within 180 days of enactment, submit to Congress a report "describing in detail the potential effects of expanding sanctions under Directive 1 ... to include sovereign debt and the full range of derivative products."

* No later than 90 days after the Act's enactment (or approximately the beginning of November), the US Treasury Secretary must modify Directive 4, to prohibit US persons not only from providing goods, services (other than financial services), and technology to projects in Russia relating to the exploration or production for oil for deepwater, Arctic offshore, or shale projects, but to such projects anywhere in the world. Notably, the Directive's expansion appears to reach non-conventional exploration and production beyond Russia, applies only to "new" deepwater, Arctic offshore, or shale projects, and only those projects where the Directive 4 target "has a controlling interest or a substantial non-controlling ownership interest in such a project defined as not less than a 33 percent interest."

  - This "new" and "substantial non-controlling ownership interest" language was added by the House to the Senate version, in an attempt to ease concerns raised by US energy firms and European allies regarding the breadth of the provision. This new provision will be effective 90 days after the US Treasury Secretary modifies Directive 4.

(2) Congressional Oversight of the President's Russia-Related Actions.

Notably, the Act gives the US Congress the opportunity during a 30-day review period to disapprove of any effort by the President to reduce, waive, or eliminate US sanctions relating to Russia. Section 216 of the Act gives Congress the power to review (i) any action to terminate the application of the sanctions in the Act, the codified Executive Orders mentioned above, and certain other statutes; (ii) any action to waive the application of sanctions targeted at certain persons, such as parties added to the Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons list (SDN List) or the List of Sectoral Sanctions Identifications parties (SSI List), or (iii) any "licensing action that significantly alters United States' foreign policy with regard to the Russian Federation."

(3) Energy Pipeline Secondary Sanctions.

The Act gives the President the power to impose, but does not require, secondary sanctions on foreign persons that knowingly (i) make an investment of US$1 million or more (or US$5 million or more over a 12-month period) that directly and significantly contributes to enhancing Russia's ability to construct energy export pipelines or (ii) sell, lease, or provide to the Russian Federation, goods, services, technology, information, or support (valued at US$1 million or more, or during a 12-month period with an aggregate value of US$5 million or more) that could directly and significantly facilitate the maintenance or expansion of the construction, modernization, or repair of energy pipelines.

* The Act appears to require the President to impose any such sanctions "in coordination with allies of the United States." This language was added to the House version of the Act in response to concerns raised by European allies, in light of such projects as the proposed Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline from Russia to Germany.

(4) Cybersecurity Sanctions.

On or after 60 days of enactment, the Act requires the President, subject to a national security interest waiver, to impose asset-blocking as well as travel sanctions, including certain secondary sanctions, on any person who knowingly engages in significant activities that undermine the cybersecurity of any person or government, including a democratic institution, on behalf of the Russian government. Any national security interest waiver submitted by the President to avoid the imposition of sanctions must be accompanied by a certification that the Russian government has "made significant efforts to reduce the number and intensity of cyber intrusions conducted by that Government." The Act includes a definition of what constitutes "significant activities undermining cybersecurity," which includes, among other activities, significant destructive malware attacks.

(5) Secondary Sanctions Targeting Certain Activities Relating to Russian Intelligence and Defense Sectors, Sanctions Evaders, and Privatizations.

The Act requires the President to impose secondary sanctions on those (including non-US persons) who he determines:

* Have knowingly engaged in a significant transaction with "a person that is part of, or operates for or on behalf of, the defense or intelligence sectors of the Government of the Russian Federation, including the Main Intelligence Agency of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation or the Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation." Secondary sanctions are to be imposed 180 days after enactment of the Act. The Act requires the President to issue guidance or regulations no later than 60 days after the date of the Act's enactment to "specify the persons that are part of, or operate for or on behalf of, the defense and intelligence sectors of the Government of the Russian Federation."

* Are responsible for, complicit in, or have supported serious human rights abuses in any territory forcibly occupied or otherwise controlled by the Russian government. The Act also requires sanctions on foreign persons that (i) knowingly have materially violated, attempted to violate, or conspired to violate or caused a violation of US sanctions or the Ukraine Freedom Support Act of 2014, or (ii) "facilitates a significant transaction or transactions, including deceptive or structured transactions" for or on behalf of a person that is a target of US sanctions, or for that person's child, spouse, parent, or sibling.

* With actual knowledge make an investment of US$10 million or more (or any combination of investments not less than US$1 million each, which in the aggregate equals or exceeds US$10 million in a 12-month period), or facilitate such an investment, if the investment "directly and significantly" contributes to the ability of the Russian government to "privatize state-owned assets in a manner that unjustly benefits" Russian government officials or "close associates" or family members of those officials. The Act does not define the terms "investment," "unjustly benefit," and "close associates."

(6) Sanctions Targeting Crude Oil Projects and Corruption.

The Act limits the discretion of the President under the Ukraine Freedom Support Act of 2014 by requiring the President to impose secondary sanctions on a foreign person that knowingly makes a "significant investment" in a "special Russian crude oil project" as well as foreign financial institutions that support such investments. The Ukraine Freedom Support Act does not define the term "significant investment" and defines a "special Russian crude oil project" to be a crude oil extraction project in Russian deepwater (i.e., more than 500 feet deep), Arctic offshore locations, or shale formations. The President can waive the imposition of such secondary sanctions by invoking a national interest waiver.

* The Act also limits the President's discretion under the Sovereignty, Integrity, Democracy, and Economic Stability of Ukraine Act of 2014, requiring him to impose secondary sanctions against a Russian government official or close associate or family member involved in an act of significant corruption in Ukraine, Russia, or elsewhere.

(7) Sanctions Relating to Support for the Syrian Government.

The President is required to impose asset-blocking and travel sanctions on any person determined by the President to have knowingly exported, transferred, or otherwise provided significant financial, material, or technological support to the Syrian government in acquiring or developing advanced conventional weapons, ballistic, or cruise missile capabilities, as well as biological, chemical, and nuclear weapons and related technologies.

(8) Secondary Sanctions Described.

The so-called "secondary sanctions" described in the Act target the activities of non-US persons. These secondary sanctions can be applied to parties beyond the jurisdiction of the United States, and they effectively take the form of a denial of US benefits, as opposed to monetary penalties available under US "primary" sanctions (which apply to US persons).

* In the context of the Act, the menu of secondary sanctions from which the President can select (generally, he must select up to five) includes the following:

  - Denial of export-import bank financing and assistance

  - Denial of US export licensing

  - Prohibition against US financial institution making loans or providing credits of more than US$10 million in any 12-month period

  - Use of US government power to oppose a loan from a non-US financial institution to the sanctioned party

  - Denial of US Government procurement

  - Prohibition against transactions in foreign exchange that are within US jurisdiction

  - Prohibition against transfers of credit or payments between financial institutions or by, through, or to any financial institution, if within US jurisdiction

  - For foreign financial institutions, (i) loss of designation as a primary dealer in US Government debt instruments by the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System and the Federal Reserve Bank of New York and/or (ii) revocation of right to serve as an agent of the US Government or to serve as repository for US Government funds

  - Effect on the property rights of sanctioned persons for property within US jurisdiction (i.e., asset blocking similar to those on OFAC's SDN List

  - Prohibition against US persons investing in or purchasing significant amounts of equity or debt instruments of the sanctioned persons

  - Travel prohibitions directed at corporate officers, principals, or controlling shareholders or principal of, or a shareholder with a controlling interest in

  - Placement of any of these secondary sanctions on the principal executive officer or similar officers of the sanctioned person

IRAN

Largely in response to Iran's ballistic missile tests, the Act imposes new sanctions targeting Iran's defense sector and the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).

(9) Asset-Freezing and Terrorism-Related Sanctions.

The Act requires the President to impose asset-freezing sanctions (and for non-US persons, a travel ban) against any US or foreign person that knowingly engages "in any activity that materially contributes to the activities of the Government of Iran with respect to its ballistic missile program" or programs to develop, deploy, or maintain weapons of mass destruction. Subject to his exercise of a national security interest waiver, the President must also impose asset-freezing sanctions (and for non-US persons, a travel ban) against any US or foreign person who knowingly contributes to the "supply, sale, or transfer" to Iran of "battle tanks, armored combat vehicles, large caliber artillery systems, combat aircraft, attack helicopters, warships, missiles or missile systems ... or related materiel, including spare parts."

* The Act also requires the President to impose the same sanctions on those who knowingly provide "technical training, financial resources or services, advice" or other services in supporting the use of the material listed. 90 days after the Act's enactment, the President must impose terrorism-related sanctions pursuant to Executive Order 13224 against the IRGC and its "officials, agents or affiliates." Notably, significant transactions with the IRGC can already subject non-US persons to US secondary sanctions, which survived the implementation of the Nuclear Agreement with Iran in January 2016.

NORTH KOREA

Largely in response to North Korea's successful test of an intercontinental ballistic missile on July 4, 2017, the House of Representatives recently introduced certain North Korea-related provisions to the Act. Among other measures, the Act requires the US Secretary of State to provide Congress, within 90 days of enactment, a determination as to whether North Korea should be considered a state sponsor of terrorism.

(10) Additional Designation Authority and Human Rights Provisions.

The Act broadens the list of persons the President must impose asset-blocking measures under the North Korea Sanctions and Policy Enhancement Act of 2016 (NKSPEA). These additional targets include those who knowingly procure certain precious metals from North Korea; sell or transfer rocket, aviation or jet fuel to North Korea; provide fuel or supplies for designated North Korean vessels or aircraft; provide insurance services to vessels owned or controlled by the North Korean government; or maintain a correspondent account with any North Korean financial institution.

* The Act also expands the President's discretionary authority to designate parties under the NKSPEA, including parties who knowingly acquire coal, iron, or iron ore from the North Korean government; purchase significant amounts of textiles from North Korea; or sell or transfer significant amounts of crude oil, condensates, petroleum products, or natural gas resources to the North Korean government, among other activities. Under the human rights-related provisions, the Act prohibits most goods produced by North Korean labor from entering the US and allows for the imposition of sanctions on most parties who knowingly employ North Korean labor.

* These new North Korea sanctions presumptively increase the prospects of designations of parties from China in the coming weeks.

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