On April 24, 2024, President Biden signed into law H.R. 815, a foreign aid bill containing a provision that doubles the statute of limitations (SoL) for civil and criminal violations of U.S. sanctions and other national security programs from five years to ten years.

In particular, Section 3111 of H.R. 815 amends the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA) and the Trading With the Enemy Act (TWEA)—the two authorizing statutes underpinning virtually all modern U.S. sanctions—to add a ten-year SoL for civil and criminal proceedings, overriding the default five-year periods set forth in 18 U.S.C. § 3282 (criminal proceedings) and 28 U.S.C. § 2462 (civil proceedings).  As a result, in addition to sanctions administered by the U.S. Department of the Treasury, Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), the new SoL also applies to other IEEPA-based programs such as the Information and Communications Technology and Services (ICTS) program administered by the U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of Industry and Security (discussed in our blog post here), as well as the pending outbound investment program announced by the Biden Administration (discussed in our blog post here).

The new law now distinguishes the SoL for sanctions violations from the default five-year period for most federal crimes (including antibribery violations under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act), but aligns the SoL with the ten-year SoL for certain other federal financial crimes (e.g., bank, mail, and wire fraud, if committed against a financial institution).  Going forward, the new extended period should be expected to potentially impact due diligence reviews in corporate transactions, contractual representations and warranties, as well as the scope of internal investigations, administrative subpoenas, bank examinations, and other governmental requests for information. 

However, a number of questions remain, potentially to be addressed in future guidance.  These include whether OFAC or other governmental authorities will seek to retroactively apply the new SoL (i.e., to activities before 2019) and, if so, how the new SoL will impact ongoing enforcement cases in light of existing five-year recordkeeping requirements.  It also remains to be seen whether certain exceptions applied over the years to the SoL provided for under § 2462 (e.g., for individuals not present in the United States), would extend to the new SoL.