Mr Robert Torresen

Robert Torresen

Updates

International Trade

Cuba sanctions eased further: more opportunities for US businesses?
USA | March 25 2016

The Obama administration recently announced the easing of yet another set of sanctions on Cuba. The changes to the existing sanctions policy became effective through regulatory amendments to the Cuban Assets Control Regulations and the Export Administration Regulations. This marks the fourth set of amendments to the regulations since President Obama began efforts to normalise relations with Cuba in 2014.

OFAC issues cyber-related sanctions regulations
USA | January 22 2016

In the aftermath of the cyber-attack on the Office of Personnel Management and significant losses of corporate intellectual property, the Department of the Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) recently issued new cyber-related sanctions regulations. Once parties are blocked for cyber-related sanctions purposes, their names will be added to the OFAC Specially Designated Nationals List.

Ban on export of crude oil repealed
USA | January 15 2016

For the first time in 40 years, US companies ‎may now export US crude oil to most locations without an export licence from the Department of Commerce. The Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2016, a massive spending bill that was passed by bipartisan majorities in Congress and signed by President Obama in 2015, has eliminated the export licence requirement.

Technology company penalised for US export control and sanctions violations
USA | January 08 2016

The US government recently fined California-based technology company Barracuda Networks Inc and its wholly owned UK-based subsidiary Barracuda Networks Ltd more than $1.5 million for transactions relating to sales and servicing of equipment and software to Iran, Syria and Sudan. The products at issue (web filters, link balances, firewall products and server backup software) can be used to block or censor internet activity.

Revised US-Cuba sanctions regulations another (small) step for Obama administration
USA | October 23 2015

The US Department of the Treasury Office of Foreign Assets Control and the US Department of Commerce Bureau of Industry and Security have amended the Cuban Assets Control Regulations and the Export Administration Regulations, respectively. The changes further align the regulations with President Obama's policy shift towards engaging and empowering the Cuban people.

Commerce and Treasury implement Cuba-related changes
USA | February 13 2015

In order to ease US sanctions against Cuba intended to further engage and empower the Cuban people, the US Department of Treasury Office of Foreign Assets Control and the US Department of Commerce Bureau of Industry and Security have amended the Cuban Assets Control Regulations and the Export Administration Regulations. The amendments have authorised a number of previously prohibited activities.

Relations with Cuba take new direction
USA | January 23 2015

President Obama recently announced that the United States and Cuba would renew diplomatic relations. As part of this deal, certain US sanctions against Cuba and Cuban nationals will be lifted or eased. In the coming weeks, the Treasury and Commerce Departments will amend their regulations to implement the president's announcement.

Sanctions against Russia increase
USA | January 16 2015

President Obama has signed into law the Ukraine Freedom Support Act of 2014, which authorises further sanctions against parties in Russia, as well as military assistance for Ukraine. The act requires the imposition of sanctions with respect to certain Russian weapons exporters and authorises – but does not require – the imposition of sanctions and export controls against Russia's energy sector.

Sanctions and export controls against Russia expanded
USA | October 24 2014

The government has expanded sanctions and export controls against Russia's energy, defence and financial services sectors. The Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control has broadened sectoral sanctions targeting Russia's defence sector and additional entities and activities in the energy sector. New restrictions on exports to Russia destined to military end uses or end users have also been announced.

OFAC changes '50% rule' relating to entities owned by blocked persons
USA | September 19 2014

The Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control has revised its guidance on entities owned by blocked persons. The revised guidance makes clear that an entity is blocked if one or more blocked persons directly or indirectly owns a 50% or greater interest in the entity, whether individually or in aggregate.

OFAC changes 50% rule relating to entities owned by blocked persons
USA | September 05 2014

The Treasury Department Office of Foreign Assets Control has revised its guidance on entities owned by blocked persons. The revised guidance makes clear that an entity is blocked if one or more blocked persons directly or indirectly owns a 50% or greater interest in the entity, whether individually or in the aggregate.

Ukraine-related sanctions expanded to target financial, energy and defence sectors
USA | August 01 2014

In response to the crisis in Ukraine, the US government has imposed new sanctions against Russian firms in the energy, financial and defence sectors. They include two new directives barring transactions or dealings in new debt or equity of companies identified on the new Sectoral Sanctions Identifications List. The Office of Foreign Assets Control has also added to its Specially Designated Nationals List.

OFAC imposes new Ukraine-related sanctions
USA | May 16 2014

The Office of Foreign Assets Control has sanctioned additional parties in connection with the continuing crisis in Ukraine. The most recent designations target seven officials in Russia's leadership and 17 entities linked to the president's inner circle in the banking, construction and energy sectors. The targeted individuals will be subject to an asset freeze and a US visa ban, and the targeted companies will be subject to an asset freeze.

Expanded sanctions to address latest developments affecting Crimea
USA | April 04 2014

In response to the latest developments in Crimea, the US government has blocked the property of certain Russian government officials, their supporters and a Russian bank. These parties have been added to the Office of Foreign Assets Control's specially designated nationals list and US persons are now barred from having any dealings with them.

OFAC targets securities industry
USA | March 07 2014

Clearstream Banking, SA recently agreed to pay the Department of the Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) $152 million to settle claims that it violated US economic sanctions. OFAC's settlement with Clearstream extends to the securities industry a string of multimillion-dollar enforcement actions involving use of the US financial system.

United States waives ban on Burmese imports
USA | December 07 2012

The US Departments of State and Treasury have announced the issuance of a new general licence that waives a nearly decade-old US import ban on most Burmese-origin goods. The move represents the latest step in a process of targeted easing first proposed by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. US persons now may import any article that is a product of Burma, subject to certain limitations.

Further sanctions imposed on Iran
USA | September 28 2012

The Iran Threat Reduction and Syria Human Rights Act of 2012 has been signed into law. Capping months of congressional debate over Iran's nuclear weapons programme and Syria's crackdown on opposition groups, the new law expands the Iran Sanctions Act of 1996 and the Comprehensive Iran Sanctions, Accountability and Divestment Act of 2010. It also codifies various prohibitions recently imposed by executive order.

US government eases sanctions against Myanmar
USA | August 10 2012

The Office of Foreign Assets Control recently authorised new investment in and exportation of financial services to Myanmar, easing sanctions that have been in place for over 15 years. The statutory framework for the US sanctions remains in place, thereby permitting the US government to re-impose sanctions should reforms in Myanmar not proceed as hoped.

President approves sanctions on financing of Iranian petroleum purchases
USA | April 20 2012

President Obama recently determined that there is a sufficient supply of petroleum products in world markets to allow countries to reduce their petroleum imports from Iran significantly. The finding clears the way for new sanctions under Section 1245 of the National Defence Authorisation Act on foreign financial institutions that conduct or facilitate financial transactions related to purchases of petroleum products from Iran.

President blocks all property of Iranian government and financial institutions
USA | February 24 2012

President Obama has issued an executive order blocking all property of the government of Iran and Iranian financial institutions, including the Central Bank of Iran. The executive order, which implements the National Defence Authorisation Act 2012, comes in the midst of growing international concern regarding Iran's nuclear programme and its recent threats to block the Strait of Hormuz.

Long-awaited changes to defence trade brokering rules proposed
USA | February 10 2012

The US State Department's Directorate of Defence Trade Controls has proposed changes to the rules governing the brokering of defence articles and defence services under the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR). The proposed rule entails far-reaching changes to the ITAR brokering provisions and related provisions applicable to manufacturers and exporters of defence articles and defence services.

New US sanctions imposed against Iran
USA | December 16 2011

The United States has imposed new sanctions against Iran in response to the recent alleged assassination plot against the Saudi ambassador in the United States and new findings by the International Atomic Energy Agency concerning Iran's nuclear activities. The new sanctions primarily target non-US persons with dealings in Iran's petroleum, petrochemical, banking and nuclear sectors.

OFAC eases rules for food exports to Iran and Sudan
USA | November 11 2011

The Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) recently issued a final rule authorising the export and re-export of food to Iran and Sudan. These changes come in the form of two new general licences. Exports of non-food agricultural commodities, medicines, medical devices continue to be subject to the specific licensing process that OFAC has administered for many years under the Trade Sanctions Reform and Export Enhancement Act.

United States tightens sanctions against Syria
USA | September 02 2011

President Obama recently imposed further sanctions on Syria. The new sanctions block all property interests of the government of Syria and prohibit many trade transactions by US persons with Syria. These sanctions represent the strongest US financial action taken against the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad since the start of popular protests in Damascus earlier this year.

Enforcement of Iran sanctions against non-US companies stepped up
USA | June 17 2011

The United States recently took a series of steps signalling that it has finally begun to enforce the most controversial extraterritorial aspects of US economic sanctions against Iran. Non-US companies in the petroleum and natural gas industries should carefully consider their response to this significant change in US economic sanction enforcement priorities.

Treasury issues guidance on economic sanctions against Sudan and Libya
USA | May 06 2011

The US Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control recently issued guidance concerning US economic sanctions against Sudan and Libya. This guidance is intended to help companies and non-profit organisations with ties to these countries to maximise available opportunities while still complying with US law.

New economic sanctions imposed against Libya
USA | March 18 2011

In response to the growing violence in Libya, the United States has imposed economic sanctions against Libya. All property interests of the Libyan government, certain senior officials and others implicated in human rights abuses have been blocked, and US persons have been barred from transferring or donating funds to, or having other business dealings with, those persons.

Non-immigrant visa petitions to require deemed export certification
USA | December 03 2010

US employers will soon be required to provide certification of compliance with deemed export rules when petitioning for certain non-immigrant work visa classifications on behalf of their employees. Inaccurate certifications may expose employers to liability for false statements to the US government, as well as export control violations.

Relaxation of controls on exports to dual and third-country nationals proposed
USA | October 01 2010

The US State Department has issued a proposed rule that, if adopted, would relax the controls associated with the export of defence-related items to non-US entities that employ individuals of various nationalities. Such entities would be required to conduct due diligence on their employees to prevent diversions to countries subject to US defence trade embargoes.

Government enacts further sanctions against Iran
USA | July 30 2010

President Obama has signed into law the Comprehensive Iran Sanctions, Accountability and Divestment Act. As the United States already maintains a nearly comprehensive embargo of Iran, this act largely targets the activities of non-US companies doing business in Iran, particularly in the petroleum sector. However, even US companies may be affected by the act's wide-ranging provisions.

BIS liberalises export controls for encryption items
USA | July 23 2010

The Commerce Department's Bureau of Industry and Security has published an interim final rule implementing major changes to the US export controls applicable to encryption items. The changes, effective immediately, simplify the regulation of encryption software, technology and hardware, and should substantially reduce the administrative burden associated with the export and re-export of such items.

Trade negotiators seek comment on elimination of pharmaceutical import duties
USA | April 23 2010

Over 9,000 pharmaceutical and chemical intermediates enjoy duty-free treatment under the customs regime of the United States and other countries that participate in the World Trade Organization Pharmaceutical Agreement. The Office of the US Trade Representative recently sought public comment on the possible expansion of the list of products subject to this reciprocal duty-free treatment.

New rules ease US sanctions for agricultural exports and free speech
USA | April 16 2010

The Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control has promulgated two final rules that ease sanctions against Cuba, Iran and Sudan with respect to key areas of authorized trade. The new rules will make it easier for exporters to supply agricultural commodities to Cuba, as well as to support internet-based personal communications in Cuba, Iran and Sudan.

Bureau of Industry and Security revises SNAP-R recordkeeping requirements
USA | January 29 2010

The Department of Commerce Bureau of Industry and Security has proposed a rule to change certain recordkeeping requirements applicable to exporters and reduce paper documentation in the agency's licensing programme. The proposed rule is intended to reduce mailing costs and free up staff time, and will also affect exporter compliance practices if implemented.

Omnibus Appropriations Act May Increase US Exports to Cuba
USA | January 22 2010

The recently signed Omnibus Appropriations Act may increase sales to Cuba of agricultural commodities, medicine and medical products by reversing a 2005 interpretation of 'cash in advance', as set out in the Trade Sanctions Reform Act 2000. During the fiscal year 2010, the term 'payment of cash in advance' shall mean "payment before the transfer of title to, and control of, the exported items to the Cuban purchaser".

Congressional Focus on Export Controls May Lead to Greater Domestic Sales Scrutiny
USA | December 18 2009

US companies should expect enhanced export enforcement activities focusing on domestic sales as the result of a recent undercover investigation by the Government Accountability Office. With congressional and administrative interest focused on the control of sensitive items and technologies, US companies should review their screening and 'know your customer' procedures, even for domestic sales.

DHL Settles Export Controls Case for $9.4 Million
USA | December 11 2009

The Bureau of Industry and Security and the Office of Foreign Assets Control have reached a joint settlement agreement with DHL regarding allegations that it unlawfully aided and abetted the unauthorized exportation of goods to Syria, Iran and Sudan in 2004 and failed to comply with applicable record-keeping requirements in respect of hundreds of exports.

Departments of Treasury and Commerce Ease Cuba Restrictions
USA | November 13 2009

The Departments of the Treasury and Commerce have taken action regarding President Obama's announcement in April 2009 that the US government would ease restrictions on Cuba. The regulatory amendments detail how the agencies will ease restrictions on travel to Cuba and open up business opportunities on the island for US telecommunications providers.