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 blog offers a steady stream of updates on a broad range of international trade issues, including import/export compliance, U.S. sanctions programs, trends in cross-border contracts as well as significant criminal prosecutions and civil litigation.

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
  • 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
  • SEC Agrees to $28 Million FCPA Settlement The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission has agreed to a $28 million settlement with software producer PTC, Inc. following allegations of bribes paid to Chinese officials between 2006 and 2011 in violation of the Foreign Corrupt Practice Act (FCPA). In the administrative proceeding (No. 3-17118), the SEC alleged that two of PTC’s Chinese subsidiaries bribed Chinese officials by paying for trips to the United States.  Although the trips were ostensibly for training purposes, nearly $1.5 million dollars were spent on trips which... More
  • Havana Club Trademark Row Moves to Capitol Hill As U.S. sanctions on Cuba continue to thaw, some long standing disputes have been reignited.  Perhaps chief among them is the decades-old battle over the trademark for “Havana Club” rum. The original distillery that produced Havana Club rum was expropriated by the Castro regime in the 1960s.  After the original distiller’s trademark registration had lapsed, the Cuban government registered the mark in the United States in 1976.  The Cuban government assigned its rights in the mark to spirit producer Pernod Ricard in 1993.... More
  • Cuba Sanctions Continue to Loosen Effective today, January 27, 2016, the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) and the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) have further reduced sanctions affecting U.S. relations with Cuba.  The amendments to the Cuban Assets Control Regulations (CACR) and Export Administration Regulations (EAR) represent significant steps toward the liberalization of commerce and travel which were first announced by the Obama administration in December 2014. Copyright: mishchenko / 123RF Stock Photo Among the reductions in current regulations are... More