On Thursday, March 25, the Biden administration imposed blocking sanctions against Myanma Economic Holdings Public Company Limited (MEHL) and Myanmar Economic Corporation Limited (MEC), pursuant to Executive Order 14014 (the Burma EO), in response to the military’s refusal to disavow the February 1, 2021 military coup.[1]  As a result of the sanctions, all transactions and dealings within U.S. jurisdiction, including U.S. dollar interbank transfers, in which MEHL and MEC have a direct or indirect interest are prohibited, and all property within the United States or in the possession or control of U.S. persons in which either has a direct or indirect is blocked.  These sanctions also extend to any entity directly or indirectly 50% or more owned by one or more sanctioned persons or entities, directly or indirectly.[2]  The move was made in coordination with the United Kingdom, which also imposed blocking sanctions against MEHL.[3]  You can read our previous blog post on the Burma EO here.[4]
Continue Reading United States Designates Myanmar Military Conglomerates

On February 10, 2021, in response to the February 1, 2021, military coup in Myanmar (Burma),[1] President Biden issued an executive order (the Burma EO)[2] authorizing the imposition of blocking sanctions against a range of individuals and entities.  Concurrently, the U.S. Department of the Treasury, Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) designated 10 individuals (two of the individuals were already designated under a different sanctions authority) and three entities on the list of Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons.  All property and interests in property of persons sanctioned under the Burma EO are blocked and all transactions within U.S. jurisdiction in which a sanctioned person has an interest are prohibited.  Sanctions also extend to any entity directly or indirectly 50% or more owned by one or more sanctioned persons or entities.
Continue Reading United States Imposes Sanctions in Response to Military Coup in Myanmar

The new year comes in the midst of an evolving landscape for economic sanctions, including the transition away from a U.S. administration that has relied on tightening economic sanctions as a key component of a number of foreign policy initiatives. In 2021, boards of directors should be aware of the ongoing implementation of new China-related sanctions, sanctions risks relating to ransomware attacks and the potential sanctions implications of foreign-policy shifts by the Biden administration.
Continue Reading Developments in U.S. Sanctions and Foreign Investment Regulatory Regimes

In one of a series of lame-duck sanctions and export control actions rushed into place before the transition to the Biden Administration, on January 5, 2021, President Trump issued an Executive Order Addressing the Threat Posed by Applications and Other Software Developed or Controlled by Chinese Companies (the Executive Order)[1] authorizing the Commerce Department to regulate or prohibit any transaction involving a U.S. person or within the jurisdiction of the United States with persons that develop or control the following Chinese connected software applications, or with their subsidiaries:
Continue Reading President Trump Authorizes Restrictions on Additional Chinese Applications and Calls for Potential New Export Restrictions on Personal Data; Details to Come

Yesterday afternoon, the U.S. Department of State issued the first of two mandatory reports under the Hong Kong Autonomy Act (HKAA), identifying 10 Hong Kong and mainland China officials as materially contributing to the erosion of Hong Kong’s autonomy (the “Section 5(a) Report”).[1]  Because the same individuals were already designated on the List of Specially Designated and Blocked Persons (“SDN List”) maintained by the U.S. Department of the Treasury, Office of Foreign Assets Control (“OFAC”) on August 7, 2020,[2] the practical effect of the report is limited to setting a deadline of 30 to 60 days for the U.S. administration to issue the second required report under the HKAA identifying foreign financial institutions that knowingly conduct a “significant” transaction with the 10 individuals listed in yesterday’s Section 5(a) Report (the “Section 5(b) Report”).[3]  We discussed the reports required under the HKAA and the potential impact of those reports in our earlier blog post.[4]
Continue Reading State Department Releases Hong Kong Autonomy Act Persons Report, Starts the Clock for Foreign Financial Institutions Report

In the wake of one of the largest reported medical ransomware attacks in U.S. history,[1] the U.S. Department of the Treasury, Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) and Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) issued last week a pair of advisories to assist in efforts to combat the increasing threat of ransomware attacks and related sanctions and anti-money laundering (AML) compliance issues.[2]  Like our blog post last month on the same topic, the advisories highlight the importance of considering the legal risks relating to ransomware payments and confirm that OFAC may pursue enforcement actions against ransomware payments that violate U.S. sanctions.[3]
Continue Reading OFAC and FinCEN Issue Advisories on Cyber Ransom Payments

On September 18, 2020, the U.S. Department of Commerce (Commerce) released for public inspection substantively identical notices[1] specifying the transactions relating to mobile applications TikTok and WeChat to be prohibited pursuant to the executive orders related to both entities issued by President Trump on August 6, 2020 (the TikTok Notice and the WeChat Notice, respectively, and together, the Notices).[2]  Commerce withdrew both Notices before formal publication on September 22, presumably to address uncertainty regarding the effective dates in light of developments in both matters; the TikTok Notice has already been re-issued with revised timing, but negotiations over a possible partial sale of TikTok continue.[3]  The WeChat Notice has yet to be re-issued, possibly as a result of timing uncertainty regarding the preliminary injunction discussed below.[4]
Continue Reading Commerce Provides Clarity on the Potential Scope of the TikTok and WeChat Bans; All Else Remains Murky

On September 15, 2020, the U.S. Department of the Treasury published a final rule (the “Final Rule”) significantly changing the scope of the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (“CFIUS”) mandatory notification requirements for foreign investments in U.S. critical technology businesses and expanding it to investments in all industries.  The Final Rule, which

Last month, reports surfaced that fitness technology company Garmin may have made a multimillion dollar payment in response to a ransomware attack with reported links to Evil Corp, a Russian hacking group subject to U.S. sanctions.  This incident and other recent reports of ransomware attacks against large companies highlights that companies should consider potential civil and criminal liability under U.S. sanctions laws when responding to ransomware attacks.
Continue Reading Ransomware and Sanctions Compliance: Considerations for Responses to Attacks

The Court of Appeal confirmed[1] that a borrower under a Tier 2 facility agreement was excused from making payments because of the risk of U.S. secondary sanctions.

The court made it explicitly clear that whether or not non-performance may be excused will depend on the specific words of the affected contract and the wider context.  However, whilst fact sensitive, the decision also makes clear that the English court is likely to consider U.S. secondary sanctions as “mandatory” provisions of law.  
Continue Reading UK Court of Appeal Says Risk of U.S. Secondary Sanctions is a “Mandatory Provision of Law” Excusing Non-Payment