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The laws and regulations governing international trade are especially complex and can be overwhelming for companies doing business across national borders. The rapidly expanding global marketplace, however, has made compliance more important than ever. Failure to heed these laws can have serious and lasting consequences as dire as criminal charges against the company and individual employees. The International Trade Law Compass is a blog that offers a steady stream of updates on a broad range of international trade issues, including customs/import compliance, export controls and sanctions, the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) and cross-border contracts.

Recent Blog Posts

  • The FCPA Pilot Program at Six Months: What Has It Meant for Business of All Sizes In an recent article on Law360, Robert W. Kent, Jr. looked at lessons to be learned from the first six months of the Department of Justice’s Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) Pilot Program. Announced in April 2016, the year-long pilot program is designed to up the ante for companies during FCPA investigations by offering sentencing reductions or declinations (with disgorgement of all profits from the alleged misconduct) to companies that voluntarily disclose misconduct and cooperate fully while ostensibly restricting any... More
  • Seed Company Settles Claims with OFAC in “Egregious Case” On September 13, 2016, the Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (“OFAC”) announced a $4.3 million settlement with international seed producer and exporter PanAmerican Seed Company (“PanAm Seed”). In its official statement regarding the enforcement action, OFAC alleges that PanAm Seed faced statutory and civil penalties in the amount of $12 million for “egregious” violations of US sanctions against Iran. OFAC alleges that between May 2009 and May 2012, PanAm Seed repeatedly violated US export controls by exporting... More
  • SEC Order Offers Glimpse into AstraZeneca FCPA Settlement UK-Based biopharmaceutical company AstraZeneca agreed to pay the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) $5.5 million to settle claims that its Chinese and Russian subsidiaries had made improper payments to state-controlled health care providers in violation of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA). In an order released earlier this week, the SEC outlined both the claims against AstraZeneca and the company’s cooperative and remedial efforts which were taken into account as part of the settlement. Between 2007 and 2010 in China, sales... More
  • AstraZeneca to Pay $5.5M to the SEC for FCPA Violations AstraZeneca will pay $5.5M to the Securities and Exchange Commission to settle claims that it violated the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act by making improper payments to state controlled health care providers in China and Russia. Background The SEC complaint provides that the staff of AstraZeneca’s foreign  subsidiaries bribed health care providers in China and Russia with cash and gifts to persuade them to purchase products from the company.   In addition, the SEC stated that AstraZeneca lacked proper internal accounting controls over the relations... More
  • Peru and Saudi Arabia Ratify Trade Facilitation Agreement In the past two days, two more countries – Peru and Saudi Arabia – ratified the World Trade Organization’s Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA).  Their ratification followed Mexico and Hondurus, who ratified the TFA earlier this month. The submission of instruments of acceptance from Peru and Saudi Arabia means that more than 80 percent of the ratifications needed for the TFA to take effect have been obtained.   The TFA will enter into force once two-thirds of the WTO membership formally accepts it. ... More
  • FCPA Pilot Program: Is Voluntary Self-Disclosure the New Key to Mitigating Corporate Liability? Earlier this year, the US Department of Justice announced a one-year pilot program under which US corporations could mitigate their own liability for violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) by voluntarily self-disclosing FCPA violations within their organization, in addition to fully cooperating with DOJ investigations and taking steps to remediate any misconduct. Skeptics, however, wondered if and when evidence that voluntary self-disclosure was impacting FCPA prosecutions would ever come to light. The DOJ’s decision not to pursue charges... More
  • $99 Million Fine Agreed to in International Shipping Price-Fixing Investigation Earlier this week, the Department of Justice (DOJ) announced that Norwegian Shipping company Wallenius Wilhelmsen Logistics AS (WWL) has agreed to pay a $98.9 million fine for its role in a price-fixing scheme with other international shipping companies that lasted more than a decade. As part of an ongoing anti-trust investigation, WWL is the fourth shipping company charged in a conspiracy to control prices for the shipment of roll-on, roll-off cargo in and out of the Port of Baltimore and other... More
  • Company Seeks to Recoup Losses Stemming from FCPA Violations from Former Executive The Louis Berger Group, Inc., a subsidiary of global engineering and construction company, Berger Group Holdings, Inc., recently brought an action against former executive Richard J. Hirsch who pled guilty to violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) in 2015. The suit raises breach of fiduciary duty claims against Hirsch stemming from his involvement with the payment of over a half-million dollars in bribes to Vietnamese officials between 1999 and 2004. In 2015, after a four year investigation... More
  • Panama Papers May Reveal that Cuba Used Off-Shore Entities to Circumvent US Embargo The Miami Herald is reporting that the Cuban government used the Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca to create at least 25 corporations registered in the British Virgin Islands, Panama and the Bahamas. Mossack Fonsenca, and its clients, have come under immense scrutiny since the leak of hundreds of thousands of pages of the firm’s files, which have been come known as the “Panama Papers”, revealed elaborate tax shelters used by some of the world’s wealthiest individuals and organizations. In a... More
  • Obama Will Address the USIIC Delegation On June 20, 2016, U.S. President Barack Obama will deliver the keynote address at the meeting of the international trade and investment delegation. This event is being organized by the United States – India Imports Council (USIIC). The USIIC will be taking a trade and investment delegation composed of 18 members from Gujarat, India, to the U.S.  The delegation will attend SelectUSA, a project of the U.S. Department of Commerce, where the U.S. will present its trade benefits to over 50... More