On February 23, 2024, the United States issued a broad set of new Russia-related sanctions and export controls in response to the second anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the February 16, 2024, death of opposition leader, Aleksey Navalny, in Russian custody.

The Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), the Commerce Department’s Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS), and the State Department all issued new designations.  The agencies also issued an inter-agency advisory warning non-Russian companies from doing business in or with Russia.Continue Reading US Government Imposes New Russia Sanctions, Designating Over 500 Parties and Issuing Interagency Russia Business Advisory

On December 22, 2023, President Biden issued a new Executive Order (“EO”) 14114 “Taking Additional Steps With Respect to the Russian Federation’s Harmful Activities” which amended EOs 14024 and 14068. These amendments introduce the authority to impose secondary sanctions with respect to foreign (i.e., non-US) financial institutions determined to have engaged in any significant transaction for or on behalf of certain entities designated under EO 14024, or to have engaged in any significant transaction or provided any service involving the Russian military-industrial base (which is broadly defined). The amendments also expand upon the ban on the importation and entry into the United States of Russian-origin fish and seafood, alcoholic beverages, non-industrial diamonds, and gold.Continue Reading New Secondary Sanctions Target Non-US Banks That Engage in Transactions with Russia’s Military-Industrial Base

Overview

On August 9, 2023, the White House issued a long-awaited Executive Order, entitled Addressing United States Investments in Certain National Security Technologies and Products in Countries of Concern (“EO 14105”). The EO establishes a new national security regulatory regime, implemented principally by the US Department of the Treasury (“Treasury”), in consultation with other federal agencies including the US Department of Commerce, that will require the notification of, as well as prohibit, certain investment activity by US persons in named “countries of concern,” currently China.

EO 14105 does not restrict all US person investment activity regarding China, and is tailored to focus on specific products, technologies, and capabilities involving: (1) semiconductors and microelectronics (including advanced integrated circuits and supercomputers); (2) quantum information technologies (e.g., computers, sensors, networking, and systems); and (3) certain artificial intelligence systems (e.g., with certain military, intelligence, or surveillance end uses).Continue Reading Biden Administration Announces New Outbound Investment Regime Targeting China

On July 26, 2023, the US Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS), the US Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), and the US Department of Justice (DOJ) issued a joint compliance note (the Note) focusing on the voluntary self-disclosure (VSD) policies that apply to US sanctions, export controls, and other national security laws. The Note is the second collective effort by the three agencies to inform the private sector about civil and criminal enforcement trends, as well as to provide guidance to the business community and all persons regarding compliance with US sanctions and export laws. The first joint note, which focused on combatting third-party intermediaries used to evade Russia-related US sanctions and divert export-controlled items that are contributing to Russia’s foreign harmful activities, was issued on March 2, 2023.

The Note does not change the existing VSD policies of the three agencies, but highlights the benefits of their existing VSD policies to incentivize companies to promptly disclose and remediate.  Likewise, the Note highlights the risks companies face, in at least some instances, should they choose not to disclose.

The Note also encourages whistleblowers to report suspected violations of sanctions and anti-money laundering laws to the US Department of the Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), for which persons that submit whistleblower tips may be awarded up to 10% to 30% of the monetary penalty collected for successful US government enforcement actions.Continue Reading Commerce, Treasury, and Justice Issue Joint Compliance Note on Voluntary Self-Disclosure

In this blog post, we update our earlier post regarding OFAC’s determination and guidance on implementing the price cap policy for Russian crude oil (see link), by incorporating the recently released determinations regarding the price cap policy for Russian petroleum products and the updated guidance on implementing the price cap policy for Russian-origin crude oil and petroleum products.

On November 22, 2022, the US Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) published a determination targeting Russian-origin crude oil pursuant to section 1(a)(ii) of Executive Order 14071 (EO 14071), and guidance on the implementation of the price cap policy for Russian-origin crude oil. These followed OFAC’s preliminary guidance released on September 9 (see Steptoe’s earlier blog post here).

Further, on February 3, 2023, OFAC published a determination targeting Russian-origin petroleum products pursuant to section 1(a)(ii) of EO 14071, and updated guidance on the implementation of the price cap policy for Russian-origin crude oil and petroleum products (the Updated Guidance).

The two determinations (the Determinations) set forth the categories of services relating to the maritime transport of Russian-origin crude oil and petroleum products (Covered Services) that US persons are prohibited from providing directly or indirectly to a person located in Russia, unless these items are purchased at or below relevant price cap. The Updated Guidance addresses issues relating to the implementation of the price cap policy for Russian-origin crude oil and petroleum products.Continue Reading [UPDATED] OFAC Publishes Determinations and Guidance on Implementing the Price Cap Policy for Russian Crude Oil and Petroleum Products

On January 5, 2023, President Biden signed into law the Protecting American Intellectual Property Act of 2022 (the Act). The Act requires periodic reports to Congress identifying any “foreign persons” who are found to have engaged in significant theft of trade secrets of U.S. persons. The Act also requires menu-based sanctions against such persons, which may include blocking sanctions.

Although the Act does not specifically target any country, the press statement from Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), the sponsor of the Act, clearly indicates that China is a primary intended target of the legislation.[1]Continue Reading New Sanctions Authority for Theft of U.S. Trade Secrets by Foreign Persons

On December 2, 2022, the G7, EU, and Australia (Price Cap Coalition) jointly agreed upon a cap on the price of seaborne Russian-origin crude oil at USD 60 per barrel as of December 5, 2022. The cap is subject to change based on the Coalition’s objectives and market fundamentals.

Upon reaching this consensus, the Treasury Department released a fact sheet on the same day providing additional details on the price cap policy, including its goals, how it works, and the compliance framework for the policy (the Fact Sheet). Most information has been previously discussed in the guidance released on November 22 (see our prior blog post at link). On December 5, the Treasury Department issued a Determination (the December Determination) pursuant to Executive Order 14071 and the prior Determination dated November 22 (the November Determination), to set the cap at USD 60 per barrel formally and to implement the policy.Continue Reading Price Cap Coalition Selects Level for Cap on Price of Seaborne Russian-Origin Crude Oil

On November 22, 2022, the US Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) published a determination pursuant to Executive Order 14071 (EO 14071) (the Determination) and a guidance on the implementation of the price cap policy for Russian-origin crude oil (the Guidance). These followed OFAC’s preliminary guidance released on September 9 (see Steptoe’s earlier blog post here). The Determination sets forth the categories of services relating to the maritime transport of Russian-origin crude oil (Covered Services) that US persons are prohibited from providing directly or indirectly to a person located in Russia, unless the Russian crude oil is purchased at or below the price cap. The Guidance addresses issues relating to the implementation of the price cap policy for Russian-origin crude oil.Continue Reading OFAC Publishes Determination and Guidance on Implementing the Price Cap Policy for Russian Crude Oil

This year, we have witnessed an extraordinary set of coordinated economic sanctions and export control regulatory actions against Russia after its invasion of Ukraine. In contrast to the fast and furious pace of regulatory action, enforcement actions did not keep pace.

This year’s enforcement actions by the US Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) are notable for their jurisdictional reach and expansion of liability theories that aren’t necessarily supported by the plain language of their regulatory authority. The Commerce Department’s Bureau of Industry & Security (BIS) enforcement actions have targeted the aerospace industry, especially in relation to Russia and Belarus. The Department of Justice (DOJ) expended much of its resources on seizing and forfeiting assets linked to Russian oligarchs, galvanizing its multilateral networks.

Interestingly, OFAC continued to target the Iranian petroleum and petrochemical sector despite news reports of intensive negotiations to revive the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

Below we discuss some representative enforcement actions to date.Continue Reading What to Expect Next? US Economic Sanctions and Export Controls Enforcement Actions Thus Far in 2022