U.S. and EU economic sanctions affect companies in every industry, including commercial and investment banking, insurance, importing, exporting, publishing, entertainment, tourism and not-for-profit enterprises such as professional organizations and relief agencies. Asset freezes, import/export bans and new designations of blocked persons all change quickly in response to foreign policy and geopolitical developments.
Adding to the complexity are disclosure obligations imposed by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, state divestment statutes and blocking statutes imposed by countries with views contrary to those of the United States.
Sidley helps clients understand and navigate the complex and dynamic rules governing trade with sanctioned countries and their nationals. Interlocking export control and economic sanctions regimes are administered by more than a dozen U.S. agencies. In the EU, they are prepared, implemented and enforced at both the EU and Member State levels. Compliance can be a challenge for any company operating globally, whether through M&A activity, interaction with foreign nationals, or moving goods, services, technology or capital across borders.
In addition to regulatory counseling and compliance work, our lawyers conduct internal investigations, prepare voluntary disclosures and defend against civil and criminal enforcement actions. We also advise underwriters and assist clients in doing due diligence in connection with proposed transactions and in acquiring or merging with foreign companies in a manner to avoid violations of economic sanctions laws.
Sidley’s sanctions practitioners have, for example, recently:
- Advised a Chinese issuer with exports to Iran on representations and covenants requested by U.S. underwriters;
- Assisted a UK company to investigate and disclose exports by its Dubai subsidiary of U.S.- and EU-origin goods to Iran;
- Represented the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and other trade associations as amicus curiae in litigation before the U.S. Supreme Court on the constitutionality of economic sanctions imposed by U.S. states;
- Represented three different companies in Oil-for-Food investigations;
- Advised foreign banks operating in the United States on dollar-clearing transactions;
- Represented a U.S. reinsurance company before OFAC with respect to its participation in a syndicate that was required to pay the insured for excess losses on a claim involving Cuba; and
- Assisted a charitable organization to design and implement a sanctions compliance program, including advice on selection of screening software, drafting of standard operating procedures and a comprehensive training for all headquarters employees.