ICYMI: Congress Doubles the Statute of Limitations for Sanctions Violations

On April 24, 2024, President Biden signed into law H.R. 815, an emergency supplemental appropriations bill that included spending for Israel and Ukraine, along with other priorities such as data protection from foreign adversaries.

Within the fentanyl trafficking section, the bill included a provision that doubles the statute of limitations for all sanctions violations from five to 10 years. It also extended the limitation for certain export control violations such as biological weapon proliferation.

Impact

This policy change will change how exporters keep records, maintain compliance programs, and conduct due diligence. It also allows more time for the government to investigate violations.

Government

The Department of Justice and the Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) are the primary authorities that will benefit from this policy change. Agency officials and prosecutors will now have twice as much time to investigate and bring charges against exporters.

The majority of federal crimes currently have a five-year statute of limitations. Some serious crimes such as capital murder or treason have no statute of limitations, other serious crimes such as embezzlement from a federal financial institution or racketeering have a 10 year limit.

Congress deliberately extending the limitations period in line with serious federal crimes sends a clear signal that export violations are a priority and considered a serious offense by the U.S. government.

Private Sector Implications

Companies seeking to invest in or acquire another company subject to export control laws and U.S. sanctions will now have to request documentation for 10 years instead of five.

The law […]

By |2024-06-21T15:18:25-04:00June 21, 2024|EAR, Export, U.S. Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC)|Comments Off on ICYMI: Congress Doubles the Statute of Limitations for Sanctions Violations

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

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 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:

[…]

Your Data is NOT Your Own at the Border

On November 15, 2017, DTL’s very own Jennifer Diaz, along with other experts, spoke at the AILA CLE Luncheon on travelers’ rights when encountering U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) at airports and other ports of entry. As international travel continues to grow, coupled with increase national security efforts, it is imperative travelers know their rights when entering or exiting the U.S. Travelers enjoy taking their electronic devices with them for pleasure and/or work. Electronic devices hold considerable amounts of our personal or privileged information. 

What is CBP’s Policy? […]

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