Maria H. van Wagenberg


On June 22, 2016, the U.S. Commerce Department’s Bureau of Industry and Security (“BIS”) published a final rule (“Final Rule”) revising its guidance regarding penalties in administrative enforcement cases under the Export Administration Regulations (“EAR”).  The Final Rule will go into effect 30 days after its publication, or on July 22, 2016.  Specifically, the Final Rule amends the Guidance on Charging and Penalty Determinations in Settlement of Administrative Enforcement Cases  (“BIS Guidelines”), found in Supplement No. 1 of Part 766 of the EAR, to make BIS’s civil penalty determinations more predictable, transparent, and consistent with the Economic Sanctions Enforcement Guidelines implemented by the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (“OFAC”), Appendix A to 31 C.F.R. Part 501 (“OFAC Guidelines”).

On 23 May 2016, at a joint press conference with President Quang in Hanoi, President Obama announced the lifting of the US arms embargo against Vietnam, which had been in place in 1984.  The US Department of State’s Directorate of Defense Trade Controls (DDTC) subsequently announced the end of its policy prohibiting the sale and transfer of lethal weapons to Vietnam. 

On March 15, 2016, the US Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (“OFAC”) and the US Commerce Department’s Bureau of Industry and Security (“BIS”) announced further amendments (the “Amendments”) to the Cuban Assets Control Regulations (“CACR”) and the Export Administration Regulations (“EAR”), in a continuing effort to implement elements of the policy announced by President Obama on December 17, 2014 and to chip away at the decades-old embargo. The Amendments have been issued in anticipation of President Obama’s inaugural visit to Cuba next week and follow several earlier rounds of relaxation, including those made on January 15, 2015, September 18, 2015, and January 26, 2016. The Amendments went into effect on March 16, 2016.

On February 18, 2016, the President signed into law the “North Korea Sanctions and Policy Enhancement Act of 2016” (H.R. 757) (the “NKSPEA”), which passed Congress by an overwhelming majority in the U.S. House of Representatives and a unanimous vote in the U.S. Senate. NKSPEA sets out several new sanctions against North Korea, including the following: 1. Blocking of the Government of North Korea: Section 104(c) of NKSPEA requires imposition of a “blocking” order (i.e., asset freeze)…