ICYMI: Commerce, Treasury, and Justice Issue Compliance Note on Obligations of Foreign-Based Persons to Comply with U.S. Export Laws

On March 6, 2024, the Department of Commerce, Department of the Treasury, and Department of Justice issued a tri-seal compliance note titled: “Obligations of foreign-based persons to comply with U.S. sanctions and export control laws.”

The note:

  1. Highlights the applicability of U.S. sanctions and export control laws to persons and entities located abroad;
  2. Outlines the enforcement mechanisms that are available for the U.S. government to hold non-U.S. persons accountable for violations of such laws; and
  3. Provides an overview of compliance considerations for non-U.S. companies and compliance measures to help mitigate their risk

Applicability of U.S. Sanctions and Export Control Laws to Foreign-Based Persons

The U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) administers and enforces economic and trade sanctions, primarily against foreign jurisdictions but also against individuals and entities such as traffickers and terrorists.

The following persons/entities must comply with OFAC regulations:

  • U.S. citizens and permanent resident aliens
  • All persons within the United States
  • All U.S.-incorporated entities and their foreign branches

In certain sanctions programs, foreign entities owned or controlled by U.S. persons also must comply with applicable restrictions – such as engaging in a transaction with the government of Iran. Certain sanctions programs also require foreign persons in possession of U.S.-origin goods to comply.

Non-U.S. persons are also subject to certain OFAC prohibitions. For example, non-U.S. persons are prohibited from causing or conspiring to cause U.S. persons to wittingly or unwittingly violate U.S. sanctions, as well as engaging in conduct that evades U.S. sanctions.

Applicability of U.S. Export Control Laws

The compliance […]

By |2024-03-15T13:13:23-04:00March 15, 2024|EAR, Export, U.S. Department of Commerce (DOC), U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ)|Comments Off on ICYMI: Commerce, Treasury, and Justice Issue Compliance Note on Obligations of Foreign-Based Persons to Comply with U.S. Export Laws

DOC, Treasury, DOJ, State, and DHS Issue Joint Compliance Note: Know Your Cargo

On December 11, 2023, the U.S. Departments of Commerce, State, Justice, Treasury and Homeland Security published a joint Quint-Seal Compliance Note, “Know Your Cargo: Reinforcing Best Practices to Ensure the Safe and Compliant Transport of Goods in Maritime and Other Forms of Transportation.”

The agencies highlight the increasingly complex nature of global supply chains and opportunities for nefarious actors to evade export control laws and U.S. sanctions. The note also highlights the responsibility of individuals and entities participating in the global transport of goods to assess their risk profile and implement compliance programs.

Potential Indicators of Efforts to Evade Sanctions and Export Controls

The note directs companies involved in funding and facilitating the transport of cargo to be aware of these practices that may suggest export control or sanctions evasion: 

  • Manipulating location or identification data
  • Falsifying cargo and vessel documents
  • Ship-to-ship transfers
  • Voyage irregularities and use of abnormal shipping routes
  • Frequent registration changes” that evade national provisions; and
  • Complex ownership or management

Recommended Compliance Practices

The note recommends that individuals and entities who participate in maritime and other transportation industries should implement and strengthen compliance controls as necessary, especially when operating in high-risk areas or when dealing with entities who demonstrate suspicious behavior. A non-exhaustive list of compliance practices includes:

  • Institutionalizing sanctions and export control programs
  • Establish location monitoring best practices and contractual requirements
  • Know your customer
  • Exercise supply chain due diligence
  • Industry information sharing

The note also encourages individuals and companies to report suspicious behavior to the relevant U.S. authorities.

Recent Activity to Combat the […]

By |2023-12-24T10:53:35-05:00December 24, 2023|Export, U.S. Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS), U.S. Department of Commerce (DOC), U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), U.S. Department of State (DOS)|Comments Off on DOC, Treasury, DOJ, State, and DHS Issue Joint Compliance Note: Know Your Cargo

Can A False Claims Act Qui Tam Case, Alleging Customs Fraud, Be Filed And Pursued Anonymously?

Co-authored by:
Jonathan Tycko – Tycko & Zavareei LLP
Jennifer Diaz – Diaz Trade Law

Introduction

A company you work for, or maybe a competing company, is committing customs fraud.  The company is lying about the value of the products it is importing, using improper HTS codes to avoid duties, or importing products that have been transshipped to evade tariffs.  What can you do about it?  One option is to file what is known as a “qui tam” lawsuit under the federal False Claims Act.  A qui tam lawsuit is one that is brought by a private citizen or company against defendant that owe money to the government.  When a qui tam lawsuit is successful, the party that initiated the case—called a “relator”—is entitled to a substantial monetary reward, ranging between 15% and 30% of the amount recovered for the government.  A qui tam lawsuit has another major advantage: it engages the U.S. Department of Justice (“DOJ”) in the case, and typically results in the opening of an investigation by DOJ into the allegations made in the case.  So, a qui tam lawsuit is a means of bringing allegations of customs fraud to the attention of the government, and triggering a serious inquiry by the government into those allegations.

 

False Claims Act qui tam cases can be complicated, and many factors go into whether such a case can be successful.  In this article, we do not address the substance of the cases themselves.  Instead, we address a question we are commonly asked […]

By |2023-05-19T12:31:21-04:00May 19, 2023|U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ)|Comments Off on Can A False Claims Act Qui Tam Case, Alleging Customs Fraud, Be Filed And Pursued Anonymously?

Customs and Trade Law Weekly Snapshot

Here is a recap of the latest customs and international trade law news:

 

 

 

 

[…]

Customs Undervaluation – It’s a Crime

Customs Valuation is a procedure to determine the customs value of imported goods. The customs value is essential to calculate the total duty to be paid on an imported good. As part of its agreement with the World Trade Organization (“WTO”), the U.S. is part of an internationally standardized system of valuing imports. This standardized system allows for CBP to protect revenue, ensure reasonable care from importers, and accurately calculate Census trade statistics. Accordingly, it is critical to declare the value of importations accurately and compliantly. 

The U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) valuation methodology (as well as a summary of relevant Customs rulings) are described in detail in the Valuation Encyclopedia (i.e., the best resource on valuation inquiries). CBP permits merchandise to be valued according to one of the six valuation methods listed below. The methods are applied sequentially from first to last until an applicable value is determined. If the first method does not apply, the importer must then evaluate the second, and so on, until an appropriate method applies. The only exception to this sequential evaluation requirement is when evaluating between deductive value and computed value – an importer may choose to use the computed value before the deductive value.

Methods of Valuation:

  1. The transaction value of imported merchandise (the majority of imports use transaction value – i.e., the price paid or payable plus assists (see below))
  2. The transaction value of identical merchandise
  3. The transaction value of similar merchandise
  4. Deductive value
  5. Computed […]

Customs and Trade Law Weekly Snapshot

Here is a recap of the latest customs and international trade law news:

[…]

Customs and Trade Law Weekly Snapshot

Here is a recap of the latest customs and international trade law news:

[…]

Diaz Trade Law Invites the Trade Community to Two Free Webinars this Summer!

Celebrate the summer season with two light hearted webinars on International Trade. Diaz Trade Law invites the trade community to two FREE webinars; space is limited – register today! Laugh with us at the Humor in International Trade webinar and learn insightful facts about the impact of international trade on American history during The First Laws — History of Customs and Revenue Law. More information about each webinar is provided below:

Can We Find Humor in International Trade? – July 14, 2021 at 12:00 PM ET

This one-hour webinar describes humor in trade. International Trade is a serious subject, but within it, bits of humor can be found. Register today to hear from this experienced duo and discover many of the oddities and idiosyncrasies prevalent in our modern-day international trade system.

President and Founder of Diaz Trade Law, Jennifer (Jen) Diaz is a Chambers ranked, Board Certified International Attorney specializing in customs and international trade.

[…]

Building a Strong Export Compliance Plan

Exporting is a Privilege, Not a Right

Over 95% of the world’s consumers are outside of the United States. Opportunities abound for U.S. companies that export. However, exporting is a privilege and not a right. U.S. exporters have an important responsibility to adhere to U.S. export control laws, including the Export Administration Regulations (“EAR”), the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (“ITAR”) the Office of Foreign Assets Control (“OFAC”) sanctions laws, and the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (“FCPA”). Violations of export control laws carry hefty civil and criminal penalties. Exporters can pay hundreds of thousands of dollars in penalties, lose export privileges, and even be imprisoned for violations of U.S. export control laws.

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