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Joining British and European allies, the US imposed a further raft of sanctions on Russia and her enablers. Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) is sanctioning almost 300 individuals and entities. This is the largest number of sanctions imposed since Russia’s 2022 invasion of Ukraine. State is designating three Government of Russia officials in connection with Aleksey Navalny’s death; together, Treasury and State are sanctioning over 500 targets. The Department of Commerce is also adding more than 90 companies to the Entity List.

The White house announced initiatives to improve the cyber security of the US Port infrastructire, with enhanced authorities for the Coast Guard to inspect vessels and write minimum cybersecurity rules.   Additionally, the administration will invest over $20 billion to subsidize the manufacture of cranes in the US and Korea, to reduce a dependance on Chinese supply. There are no plans to replace the over 200 Chinese cranes already in place.

Nearly $500,000 of forfeited proceeds of an illicit machine tool sale to Russian buyers will be used to support a drone-based program to assess the damage Russian aggression has done to Ukraine’s electrical distribution and transmission infrastructure. Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco and Estonian Secretary General Tõnis Saar announced  the transfer at the Munich Security Conference Saturday Feb 17.

Volkswagen said Tuesday that  U.S. Customs had detained several thousand Bentley, Porsche and Audi vehicles at ports because the cars contained a part made by a Chinese supplier on a sanctions list for using forced labor in Xinjiang. The automaker describes the part's origin as a "sub-supplier," meaning a supplier to one of its suppliers—an entity far down the supply chain. Last year VW committed to conducting a supply chain audit for exposure to modern slavery.

Rep. Mike Gallagher, the most strident anti-communist to come out of Wisconsin's Fox River Valley since Sen. Joseph McCarthy, has had enough of the House of Representatives.    Mr. Gallagher told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel he will leave Congress at the end of his current term to enter the private sector and spend more time with his young family.  

Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) has taken its second price cap enforcement action of 2024, imposing sanctions on four entities and identifying one vessel as blocked property. OFAC is also issuing two new determinations that implement G7 commitments to ban the importation of Russian diamonds.

The Foreign Investment Regulations Putting Buyers, Sellers, and M&A Practitioners at Risk: In recent memory, enforcement of the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (“CFIUS” or the “Committee”) regulations has been mostly limited and sporadic. But recently, the U.S. government is reviving and enhancing these regulations as a direct response to the national security and foreign policy concerns ensuing from an increasingly tumultuous geopolitical environment. A CFIUS due diligence review is fundamentally related to export control laws and regulations — even for businesses that have never engaged in any exports.

The Commerce Department published a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) for establishing new requirements for Infrastructure as a Service providers (IaaS or “cloud infrastructure providers”). The proposed rule introduces potential regulations that require U.S. cloud infrastructure providers and their foreign resellers to implement and maintain Customer Identification Programs (CIPs), which would include the collection of “Know Your Customer” (KYC) information.

Six U.S. Departments published a Supplemental Advisory, reminding businesses and individuals of the compliance and reputational risks associated with trading with the military regime in Rangoon.   While North American companies continue to engage in Burmese extractive industries, the growing ring of sanctions means firms in the Rare Earths, Timber and Precious Metals trade run an increasing risk of negative legal, financial, or reputational consequences.

The Commerce Department’s Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) has expanded the scope of the EAR’s Russian and Belarusian Industry Sector Sanctions by adding 95 6-digit Harmonized Tariff Schedule (HTS) codes to the list of items requiring a license for export, reexport, or transfer (in-country) to Russia or Belarus. The expanded list of items includes certain chemicals, lubricants, and metals, and it covers the entirety of Chapter 88 of the HTS (aircraft, spacecraft, and parts thereof).

Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) is conducting a comprehensive assessment of the use of mature-node semiconductor devices (legacy chips) in the supply chains that support—directly or indirectly—U.S. national security and critical infrastructure.

Assistant Secretary for Export Enforcement Matt Axelrod announced enhancements and expansions of the Bureau's Voluntary Self-Disclosure program, including simplified reporting, e-mail submittals and expedited handling of corrective action for unlawfully exported items. In a speech January 16 at NYU School of Law’s Program on Corporate Compliance and Enforcement Mr. Alelrod described the changes, along with an engaging history of the jukebox, details of which can be found in the complete speech.  

SAP SE (SAP), a publicly traded global software company based in Germany, will pay over $220 million to resolve investigations by the U.S. Justice Department and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) into violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA). According to the SEC complaint, from at least December 2014 through December 2018,  SAP employed third-party intermediaries and consultants in various schemes to make improper payments to government officials in order to obtain and retain business in South Africa, Greater Africa (Malawi, Kenya, Tanzania, and Ghana), and Indonesia. Readers may recall SAP’s prior history, which include a non-prosecution agreement from 2021 with the Justice Department’s National Security Division, as well as administrative agreements with the Departments of Commerce and the Treasury relating to Iran-related export law violations, and a resolution in 2016 with the SEC concerning alleged FCPA violations in Panama.

ASML, a Dutch semiconductor producer, had its license to ship two types of machines that make semiconductors partially revoked. This comes after ASML canceled some of its shipments ahead of tightening Dutch restrictions on exports. "China opposes the US’s overstretching the national security concept and using all sorts of pretexts to coerce other countries into joining its technological blockade against China," said Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Wang Wenbin.  

The Export-Import Bank of the U.S.  Board of Directors approved a $90 million guarantee under EXIM’s Supply Chain Finance Guarantee Program to Dutch Financier ING Capital to finance U.S. Natural Gas processor Freeport LNG Marketing. In 2020 Exim approved a deal with Freeport LNG, "with the first-ever use of a funder guarantee structure" for  $50 million.  That deal was a "tripartite agreement"  between EXIM, Private Export Funding Corporation (PEFCO) , and the scandal-plagued, now insolvent Greensill Capital. In June 2022 a blast attributed to safety failures caused approximately $275 million in damages and took the plant offline for 18 months.

The Commerce Department's October 27 "pause" in the issuance of new export licenses involving firearms under its jurisdiction is expected to end this month, and industry and its friends in Congress are girding for battle. The Protect American Gun Exporter Act introduced by Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) seeks to forbid the Secretary from similar actions in the future and bar "unilateral' policy changes, while a leaked Commerce document proposes quite a few. In a  draft Federal Register Notice obtained by the website "The Reload" marked "predecisional"  Commerce proposes the addition of two new ECCNs, enhanced documentation requirements and other changes to improve traceability and control of the civilian arms trade.

The planned acquisition by Nippon Steel of what used to be America's preeminent steelmaker has stirred up a hornet's nest of jingoism and grandstanding in Washington and the Rust Belt, promising for a contentious review by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the US (CFIUS). "President Biden welcomes foreign investment that creates new US manufacturing jobs,"  National Economic Council Director Lael Brainard said.  “However, he also believes the purchase of this iconic American-owned company by a foreign entity – even one from a close ally – appears to deserve serious scrutiny in terms of its potential impact on national security and supply chain reliability,” 

The European Council adopted Monday a twelfth package of economic and individual restrictive measures in view of the continued Russian war of aggression against Ukraine.

Friday, the President signed a new Russia-related Executive Order advising financial institutions and payments processors that "Foreign financial institutions that conduct or facilitate significant transactions or provide any service involving Russia’s military-industrial base run the risk of being sanctioned by OFAC." Under these new authorities, OFAC can impose full blocking sanctions on, or prohibit or restrict the maintenance of correspondent accounts in the United States for, foreign financial institutions.

In a wide ranging conversation at Georgetown University, Under Secretary of Commerce for Industry and Security Alan Estevez shared his perspective on the evolution of export controls and the road ahead. "I believe now that we are at sort of a foundational inflection point as to the role and purpose of export controls," Estevez said. " Commerce is in the middle of national security in a number of spheres these days.

"We do it from two perspectives. We do it from offense and we do it from defense. Offense is things like Chips Act. So how are we going to build chip production in the United States, where we have assured supply? Semiconductors are the foundation of a lot of what goes on in our economy. "The core of the defense structure is our export controls. Protecting the technology that our adversaries could use against us, should it ever come to any kind of kinetic action...

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