Stephen Heifetz

Stephen Heifetz

Stephen Heifetz helps clients navigate laws and policies at the nexus of international business and security.   He has worked in senior levels of the federal government and uses that experience to provide counseling regarding legal compliance and political risk, conduct internal investigations, and defend against government investigations and enforcement actions.  He is particularly experienced in foreign investment reviews by CFIUS, Department of Defense NISPOM and FOCI rules, anti-money laundering laws, economic sanctions administered by OFAC and the UN, and travel and cargo screening programs administered by the Department of Homeland Security.  Prior to joining Steptoe, Mr. Heifetz served in the Department of Justice and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), as well as the Central Intelligence Agency.  In his most recent government position, he served as Deputy Assistant Secretary and Acting Assistant Secretary for the Office of Policy Development at DHS.  Mr. Heifetz shaped DHS’s role in CFIUS, conducted hundreds of CFIUS reviews, and negotiated many “risk mitigation agreements” that CFIUS deemed necessary to approve foreign investments.

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Former MoneyGram CCO Settles with FinCEN and U.S. Attorney’s Office

On May 4, 2017, the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (“FinCEN”) of the U.S. Department of the Treasury and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York announced an agreement with former MoneyGram Chief Compliance Officer Thomas Haider to settle claims under the Bank Secrecy Act (“BSA”). FinCEN initially assessed a $1 million … Continue Reading

Banks to Push for Reform to Anti-Money Laundering Rules

Financial institutions long have complained that current anti-money laundering (AML) regulations are costly and ill-suited to prevent crime and terrorism. According to one study, the cost of compliance with AML rules approaches $8 billion. The rise in compliance costs has coincided with a sharp increase in both the number and amount of penalties assessed by … Continue Reading

CFIUS Proximity Redux: New Report Raises Concern Over Government Agencies Operating in Foreign Owned Buildings

In this age of heightened national security concerns, it might seem farfetched that an FBI field office was being housed in a foreign owned building. Yet, according to a new Government Accountability Office (“GAO”) report, it is not only true but a fairly common phenomenon. On January 30, 2017, the GAO released a new report … Continue Reading

Generation Shift: Recent Developments in US-China Business Relations and the Path Ahead Under President-elect Trump

The US-China relationship is conceivably the most significant and complex bilateral relationship of the early 21st century, largely because China is the greatest US trading partner that is not a strategic ally.  US-China competition regarding security and global influence can drive innovative solutions or hamper trade and other areas of cooperation.  Please see our advisory … Continue Reading

CFIUS History Redux: President Obama Blocks Chinese Purchase of Aixtron, Inc.

On Friday, December 2 – for just the third time since the creation of the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (“CFIUS”) – the President acted on a recommendation by CFIUS to block a foreign investment. President Obama issued an Executive Order blocking the proposed acquisition of Aixtron, Inc., a California-based U.S. subsidiary … Continue Reading

Two Questions and Partial Answers About What a Trump Administration Could Mean for CFIUS

The Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (“CFIUS”) is a powerful tool of the executive branch.  CFIUS effectively can impose conditions on, block, or even unwind foreign investments in U.S. companies.  But the tool has been wielded, thus far, only to safeguard U.S. national security. Two common questions about CFIUS, in view of … Continue Reading

Deadline Approaches for Facility Security Clearance Holders to Implement Insider Threat Procedures

As Steptoe previously reported, May 2016 the DoD published updates to the National Industrial Security Operating Manual (“NISPOM,” Change 2 to DoD 5220.22-M) and an accompanying Industrial Security Letter requiring government contractors holding a facility security clearance (“FCL”) to establish or maintain a written policy by November 30, 2016 to detect, deter, and mitigate insider … Continue Reading

Stephen Heifetz and Peter Jeydel on the Cuba Embargo in The Hill

Today, Steptoe’s Stephen Heifetz and Peter Jeydel were published in The Hill with an op-ed piece “Time to Finally End the Cuba Embargo.”  They argue that the President has the executive authority to lift most, if not all, of the embargo, in the wake of the 25th annual UN General Assembly vote condemning it.  For … Continue Reading

How the 2016 Election Will Impact Public Policy Developments

Sunday’s presidential town hall debate was the second of three opportunities for candidates Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton to make their case to the American electorate.  In addition to the discussion of personal and character issues, the candidates touched on a range of policy issues, including tax policy, financial services, energy, and international trade.  The … Continue Reading

Dramatic Rise in FinCEN Enforcement

On October 3rd, the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) assessed a $12 million penalty against the sports betting company CG Technology. Like something out of a bad TV crime drama, CG executives were involved with an illegal gambling operation dubbed the “Jersey Boys.”  CG failed to implement an anti-money laundering (AML) compliance system and to … Continue Reading

When is the Right Time to Make a CFIUS Filing?

Foreign investors in US companies often must consider multiple regulatory issues.  Among those is whether to seek clearance from the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, or CFIUS.  A related question is when to file with CFIUS.  Comparatively little guidance is available on the latter question.  To learn more about whether and when … Continue Reading

Treasury’s Cold Comfort Message Regarding Correspondent Banking and AML/Sanctions

For several years, banks have been bludgeoned with anti-money laundering (AML) and sanctions penalties. These twin hammers, increasingly wielded simultaneously and synergistically by regulators and prosecutors, have produced multi-billion dollar penalties.  The Treasury Department now has released a message seemingly intended to provide some comfort to the bruised and wary banking community.  But that comfort … Continue Reading

Customer Due Diligence Guidance by FinCEN for Certain Financial Institutions

On July 19, 2016, the US Department of the Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) issued Frequently Asked Questions to clarify the scope of its rule, “Customer Due Diligence (CDD) Requirements for Financial Institutions.”  Steptoe’s International Compliance Blog covered the rule in May. This rule took effect on July 11, 2016, but does not require … Continue Reading

FinCEN Expands its Real Estate GTOs, Citing Value of Initial Orders

Consistent with the trend we noted previously, FinCEN has expanded its real-estate focused Geographic Targeting Orders (GTOs).  The new GTOs target real estate transactions beyond Manhattan and Miami to include six geographic areas:  all boroughs of New York City, and counties in or near Miami FL, Los Angeles CA, San Francisco CA, San Diego CA, … Continue Reading

FinCEN’s New Anti-Money Laundering Rule Requires “Beneficial Ownership” Due Diligence, Advancing Financial Transparency

On May 11, the U.S. Treasury Department published a long-pending anti-money laundering rule.  Through this rule, the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), the Treasury arm that issued the rule, has extended the obligations of financial institutions to conduct due diligence on customers. This rule is directly related to the “Panama Papers” – a recently-revealed huge … Continue Reading

Treasury Announces Anti-Money Laundering, Corruption, and Tax Evasion Regulations and Legislation

On May 5, 2016, the US Department of the Treasury announced several actions to crack down on illicit financial conduct and increase transparency in the financial system.  First, Treasury will publish a Customer Due Diligence (“CDD”) Final Rule.  This rule will harmonize and clarify existing anti-money laundering due diligence requirements and also add a new … Continue Reading

FinCEN Reissues Final Rule Against FBME Bank

On March 25, 2016, the Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) announced that it is reissuing a final rule against FBME Bank Ltd. (FBME).  Under Section 311 of the USA PATRIOT Act, FinCEN has authority to designate a foreign financial institution as a “primary money laundering concern” and promulgate a rule imposing “special measures” … Continue Reading

Smart Tools and Targeted Enforcement: FinCEN’s Increasing Use of Geographic Targeting Orders

The current leadership of the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) aggressively has sought to close gaps in its anti-money laundering enforcement efforts.  We’ve blogged about some of FinCEN’s recent efforts (here and here) to broaden regulation and bring new types of enforcement actions.  Along similar lines is FinCEN’s increasing use of Geographic Targeting Orders (GTOs) … Continue Reading

FinCEN’s Expanding Enforcement in 2015

The Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (“FinCEN”) was very active in the waning days of 2015.  And FinCEN’s message from this activity is clear – it is closing any gaps it finds in anti-money laundering (AML) enforcement, including for non-traditional financial institutions, not used to being the focus of regulation, but increasingly the choice … Continue Reading

Compliance Issues Regarding the Syrian Conflict

In light of recent events related to Syria, it is possible that companies will be approached by entities seeking to arm or otherwise assist the Syrian opposition or the Kurdish Peshmerga.  We remind companies subject to the ITAR that there are significant compliance issues associated with such transfers, whether directly to the opposition or the … Continue Reading

Anti-Money Laundering Developments at FinCEN

The Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) has been busy – both on offense and defense. In just the past few months, two foreign banks have filed novel lawsuits against FinCEN in response to draconian “Section 311” FinCEN actions against those banks. At the same time, FinCEN is broadening the reach of its anti-money … Continue Reading
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