Steptoe handles all aspects of US and EU economic sanctions counseling, including advising multinational clients on compliance with comprehensive sanctions targeting Crimea, Cuba, Iran, North Korea, and Syria as well as increasingly complex rules concerning Russia, Ukraine, Venezuela, and the List of Specially Designated Nationals (SDNs) and Blocked Persons administered by the US Office of Foreign Assets Controls (OFAC). We frequently interact with the US Government, as well as the competent sanctions authorities in Europe and at the United Nations. Whether your organization is building its first sanctions compliance program or undertaking a high-stakes investigation or defense strategy, Steptoe’s team of seasoned experts stands ready to assist around the clock from offices in North America, Europe, and Asia.
We have particular experience in:
- International Compliance: With offices in key regulatory hubs beyond Washington, DC, such as Beijing, Hong Kong, London, and Brussels, Steptoe specializes in advising non-US clients on how US sanctions laws and regulations apply to their multinational business activities. We have assisted leading international financial institutions and corporates around the globe in developing risk-based compliance programs, conducting internal investigations of potential breaches, and navigating the complexities of cross-border enforcement cases involving authorities in the United States, China, Hong Kong, the European Union, the UK, and other jurisdictions.
- Investigations & Enforcement: Steptoe has extensive experience in handling sanctions investigations, including investigating and remediating breaches of corporate compliance controls, responding to governmental information requests, subpoenas, pre-penalty contacts, negotiated settlements, and administrative and criminal enforcement proceedings, as well as advising clients on their decision making about voluntary self-disclosures and stakeholder communications. We have also assisted several clients, from individuals to multinational companies, in seeking removal from the SDN List and the US government’s various other lists of restricted parties.
- Counseling & Licensing: We counsel clients on the meaning and practical application of all US and EU-related sanctions laws and regulations, as well as assist in the submission of license or guidance requests to relevant regulatory authorities. Examples of our work include (but are not limited to) providing extensive counseling with respect to clients impacted by changes to the Iran sanctions program, preparing detailed analysis and legal strategy on behalf of clients exposed to sanctions under OFAC’s Russia/Ukraine, Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Syria, and Venezuela-related sanctions programs; counseling clients on the designation of Russian, Ukrainian, Iranian, and Chinese blocked persons (among others) and their ownership interests in major corporations; advising on the scope and impact of the Sectoral Sanctions Identification List and Crimean embargo; and assisting clients in managing the winding down or continuation of business pursuant to general licenses under various OFAC programs.
- Internal Compliance & Due Diligence: Steptoe works closely with clients to develop a tailored, workable, and practical sanctions compliance program by understanding the nature of a company’s operations and its internal organizational and functional structure, in order to assess risks and vulnerabilities and provide workable compliance solutions. Our team includes lawyers who have hands-on experience working in-house on legal and compliance teams in multinational companies based around the world.
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Steptoe’s export controls practice spans the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR), the Export Administration Regulations (EAR), and the Department of Energy Part 810 and Nuclear Regulatory Commission Part 110 regimes. We handle licensing and advisory matters under EU dual-use and military export controls, including the EU Dual-Use Regulation and member state implementing legislation. Our clients in the manufacturing, defense, and trading sectors depend on us for sophisticated guidance on managing complex export control regimes and supply-chain risks around the globe.
We have particular experience in:
- International Compliance: Our cross-border team consists of experienced export control attorneys in the US and EU that frequently develop, implement, and assess export compliance programs for US and non-US clients, and provide analyses of regulatory requirements as they are applied to a variety of business lines. Our team has handled hundreds of internal investigations, voluntary and mandatory disclosures to regulatory agencies (where necessary), and civil and criminal enforcement actions initiated by regulatory and law enforcement officials in the US and EU countries.
- Advanced Technologies and Encryption: Our team actively monitors and advises clients on amendments to the EAR and forthcoming controls targeting emerging and foundational technologies, including robotics, artificial intelligence, biotechnology, telecommunications, and other high technologies. Our specialist lawyers routinely advise clients on difficult questions about the application of export controls to the latest software, encryption technology, and controlled data, which have a significant impact on financial services and other industries.
- Anti-Boycott: We provide a range of counseling, compliance, investigation, and remedial services, covering anti-boycott provisions under the EAR and the Treasury Department Anti-Boycott Guidelines issued under Section 999 of the Internal Revenue Code. We offer legal advice/opinion services related to interpretation of regulatory requirements and have experience advocating interpretive and policy positions with US government officials responsible for the interpretation and enforcement of the anti-boycott rules.
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Steptoe has assisted many companies – US and foreign, their foreign affiliates, and individuals – in effectively managing risks arising under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) and other anti-corruption laws in their trade and investment activities. We have extensive experience in emerging markets, including Latin America, China, Southeast Asia, the Middle East and Africa, and the former Soviet Union. In addition to their experience in private practice, our lawyers’ governmental experience includes service in the Department of Justice (DOJ), the staff of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), and the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations of the US Congress.
We have particular experience in:
- Litigation and Defense: We represent companies before the DOJ, SEC, World Bank Board, and other bodies, and have performed special board committee investigations and internal investigations for companies, boards of directors, audit committees, and special litigation committees. We have also been involved and are currently involved in a number of recent FCPA investigations and enforcement actions involving Latin America, Russia and Eastern Europe, the Middle East and Africa, and Asia.
- Investigations and Remediation: Our practice encompasses both preventive and remedial services as well as the representation of companies and individuals before key enforcement agencies. Steptoe’s lawyers have decades of experience in conducting complex, multi-jurisdictional investigations of corporate misconduct for clients in a wide variety of industries. Our team brings this extensive experience to bear in advising our clients on investigating and correcting past misconduct and managing future risks through the implementation of compliance programs. With a client-focused approach, our experience around the globe allows us to make informed judgments about issues that arise in both the preventive and remedial sides of our work, and to handle matters with practicality and efficiency.
- Multilateral Development Banks: Steptoe has been at the forefront of World Bank and other multilateral development bank (MDB) investigations and sanctions proceedings, and have experience with parallel proceedings in multiple jurisdictions. We advise our clients on the requirements of MDB integrity programs and prohibited practices and represent clients facing probes into allegations of misconduct in the context of MDB-financed projects. We have assisted corporates in reaching settlements and implementing corrective measures to ensure their continued eligibility to receive MDB financing, an ever-important source of project funding globally.
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International Trade Policy & Negotiations
Trade policy is becoming an ever more essential component of business strategy. Whether by opening new markets, establishing favorable rules of trade, or using trade rules to protect against unfair competition or blunt the impact of adverse trade measures, companies are increasingly considering trade policy as a means of advancing their interests. Steptoe has built a well-earned reputation as a leading firm for assisting companies to develop and execute sophisticated trade policy strategies to improve their competitive position and market access and to minimize risk arising from international trade developments.
We have particular experience in:
- Strategic Guidance: The Steptoe trade team possesses a wealth of experience in international trade and investment policy and politics, as well as an understanding of how to leverage trade developments to advance clients’ interests. Steptoe distinguishes itself by combining this trade policy and political experience with technical legal expertise in a broad range of trade laws and litigation, international trade agreements (including WTO and free trade agreements) and negotiating contexts.
- Trade Disputes and Negotiations: By integrating our political and trade policy knowledge with our deep trade law and litigation experience, we have achieved positive results for our clients in some of the most challenging trade disputes, trade negotiations, and market access efforts. Our team includes seasoned professionals who have served in high-ranking trade policy positions in the US government and participated in US and EU trade policymaking over many years.
- Government Affairs and Public Policy: The professionals in our Government Affairs and Public Policy practice bring decades of bipartisan political experience and a wide network of contacts to achieve clients’ goals in cooperation with our trade policy practice. Because every company’s needs are different, we tailor each strategy to our client’s individual priorities and budget. This strategy might involve advocating for a company’s interests before the White House and the Office of the US Trade Representative, or it might require a broader engagement plan, including advocacy with other administration agencies or members of Congress. Where appropriate and helpful to the client’s goals, we work with foreign governments and stakeholders, including economic consultants, to build effective multinational strategies.
Click here to learn more about our International Trade Policy & Negotiations practice.