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Inessa Owens

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On January 10, 2020, the US Department of
Transportation (“DOT”) issued an order
imposing new restrictions on public charter flights from the United States to
Cuba. While certain US
restrictions on Cuba, including for travel, were relaxed under President Obama,
the Trump Administration has gradually rolled back some of these changes and
further tightened US travel restrictions vis-à-vis Cuba.

On December 13, 2019, the US Department of Justice’s (“DOJ”) National Security Division (“NSD”) released a revised policy regarding voluntary self-disclosures of willful export control and sanctions violations (the “Policy”).  The Policy reiterates DOJ’s commitment to pursue willful violations of export control and sanctions violations, and supersedes the DOJ’s “Guidance Regarding Voluntary Self-Disclosures, Cooperation, and Remediation in Export Control and Sanctions Investigations Involving Business Organizations,” dated October 2, 2016 (“2016 Guidance”).

The Policy clarifies the requirements for companies seeking to receive credit for voluntary self-disclosures (“VSD”) of willful export control or sanctions violations, and sets forth the potential benefit to companies who meet the requirements set forth in the Policy.

On November 27, 2019, President Trump signed two bills into law that increase US sanctions and export control restrictions as they relate to China.  The bills, approved in response to recent political protests in Hong Kong, had near unanimous support from the US Congress. President Trump previously expressed concerns about the legislation while in the midst of negotiating a trade deal with China but ultimately signed both bills in the hopes that the “Leaders and Representatives of China and Hong Kong will be able to amicably settle their differences leading to long term peace and prosperity for all.”

On October 25, 2019, the US Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (“FinCEN”) issued a final rule identifying Iran as a jurisdiction of primary money laundering concern (“Final Rule”) under Section 311 of the USA PATRIOT ACT, seeking to further isolate Iran from the global financial system.  Concurrently, the US Treasury and State Departments announced a new humanitarian mechanism to ensure that funds associated with permissible trade in support of the Iranian people are not diverted by the Iranian regime to develop ballistic missiles, support terrorism, or finance other malign activities.  These measures build upon the US Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control’s (“OFAC”) additional sanctions against the Central Bank of Iran discussed in our prior blog post here.