Register for ABA's National Institute on International Regulation and Compliance: FCPA, Economic Sanctions & Export Control

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For the first time ever, the American Bar Association is putting together an inaugural comprehensive program on the FCPA, economic sanctions, and export control.  Led by the Criminal Justice Section and its Global Anti-Corruption Committee, and co-sponsored by the Business Law and International Law Sections, the ABA National Institute on International Regulation and Compliance is a three-day program (October 1-3) in Washington, DC tackling some of the most pressing challenges in cross-border regulations affecting in-house and outside business and transactional lawyers, litigators, investigators, compliance professionals, and forensic examiners, as well as their organizations.

Attracting many of the country’s leading thought leaders and practitioners in their respective fields – and drawing from the membership of all three Sections – the Institute is anchored by an exceptionally strong faculty with deep knowledge of, and experience in, their respective topics.  In addition, the Institute benefits from the participation of a cross-section of government and former government lawyers, who are important contributors to the Institute’s program-content dialogue.  So come be a part of an important, cutting-edge conference with many benefits, including:

  • Fair and balanced program content targeted at both experienced and less experienced professionals in different legal fields
  • Satisfying your state bar legal ethics requirement
  • Increased networking opportunities

Register today!

The European Court of Justice Overturns, Unfreezes EU Iran Sanctions

Sheppard Mullin 2012

In a series of recent rulings, the European Court of Justice overturned economic sanctions issued by the Council of the European Union (EU) on several Iranian banks and shipping lines.  On September 6 and 16, 2013, the Court halted sanctions on Persia International Bank plc, Bank Refah Kargaran, Export Development Bank of Iran, Post Bank Iran, Iranian Offshore Engineering & Construction Co., Iran Insurance Company, Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines (IRISL), Khazar Shipping Lines, and Good Luck Shipping.  The EU had sanctioned these entities for their support of nuclear proliferation activities in Iran, but the Court determined that the EU lacked sufficient evidence to introduce such sanctions.  The cases are notable for their effect on global sanctions against Iran, although it seems unlikely that U.S. sanctions against Iran would be lifted on similar grounds.

While a full review of the developments in each case would be beyond the scope of this blog article, a few representative matters bear closer scrutiny.  In the case against IRISL, the Court noted that the imposition of sanctions was only permitted where a party had allegedly supported nuclear proliferation.  The Court indicated that sanctions could not be imposed simply based on a risk that  IRISL might provide support for nuclear proliferation in the future.  In particular, the Court determined that, while the EU established that IRISL had been involved in exports of arms from Iran, that activity was not alone sufficient to support the imposition of nuclear sanctions.  As a result, the Court struck down the sanctions against IRISL.

Similarly, in considering sanctions against Iran Insurance Company, the Court noted that the EU had sanctioned the company for insuring the purchase of helicopter spare parts, electronics, and computers with applications in aircraft and missile navigation, which the EU alleged could be used in violation of nuclear proliferation sanctions.  The Court ruled that the EU had relied on “mere unsubstantiated allegations” regarding the provision of insurance services, and annulled the sanctions.

We think these two matters are noteworthy for the types of evidence used to link the activities of the entities to nuclear proliferation.  When viewed in the light of a formal court proceeding, it seems somewhat remarkable that the EU sought to tie the insuring of items including helicopter spare parts to nuclear proliferation at all.  But, as we have discussed previously in this blog, [see May 2013 sanctions article]  economic sanctions against Iran have been broadly construed and applied by the United States and the EU to target industries integral to the functioning of the Iranian economy.  Insofar as a functioning Iranian economy also supports the nuclear development efforts of its government, it may make political sense for the EU and the United States to impose leverage through sanctions.  As a legal matter, however, the European Court of Justice rulings suggest that Court will be loathe to tie restrictions on general economic activity to a statute focused on the specific activity of nuclear proliferation.

In other words, the European Court of Justice seems unlikely to defer to the EU, even where European security is at stake.  This stands in relatively stark contrast to U.S. courts, which have generally shown deference to government activity on issues of national security.[1]

For the time being, U.S. sanctions on Iran and key entities within the Iranian banking and shipping sectors remain in place, with far reaching consequences that will continue to deter Western business from even considering business in Iran.  And ultimately, any warming in diplomatic relations between the United States and Iran will likely be more momentous than judicially vacated sanctions.  But at a minimum, the European Court of Justice has signaled that EU sanctions are subject to standards of proof that cannot be broadly construed to incorporate all types of economic activity.


[1] At least one U.S. court has overturned criminal sanctions charges on individuals by reading regulatory provisions in the accused’s favor due to issues of vagueness in the sanctions regulations. [see Clarity Required: US V. Banki]

ICC – Economic Sanctions in the Global Economy

The National Law Review is pleased to bring you information regarding the upcoming ICC Institute’s Economic Sanctions in the Global Economy Conference:

At a time when the global financial crisis has severely impacted trade flows and hampered world growth, what is the effect and the justification for the extraterritorial application of economic sanctions?

The long arm reach of law enforcement agencies sets global companies unprecedented challenges in terms of conflict of laws and regulatory jurisdiction. Dozens of criminal, administrative or regulatory investigations on both sides of the Atlantic are currently targeting billions of dollars worth of commercial transactions and cross-border payments. Penalties in the hundred of millions of dollars are regularly disclosed sanctioning global companies and banks for their past cross-border dealings . What is the right balance between the governments’ objective of moving to a safer world and the business reality? How are judges and arbitrators expected to adjudicate a claim for non-performance triggered by foreign economic sanctions?

Conference highlights
This event is unprecedented in bringing together senior government officials from both sides of the Atlantic and decision makers in global companies as well as their counsel. Speakers and participants have a unique opportunity to discuss in an open public-private forum the regulators’ approach towards economic sanctions and the expectation of industry leaders as to how sanctions could be better conceived and applied.

Who should attend?

Lawyers, compliance officers, bank executives, general managers, payment and treasury officers in companies and banks, government officials and academics.

ICC – Economic Sanctions in the Global Economy

The National Law Review is pleased to bring you information regarding the upcoming ICC Institute’s Economic Sanctions in the Global Economy Conference:

At a time when the global financial crisis has severely impacted trade flows and hampered world growth, what is the effect and the justification for the extraterritorial application of economic sanctions?

The long arm reach of law enforcement agencies sets global companies unprecedented challenges in terms of conflict of laws and regulatory jurisdiction. Dozens of criminal, administrative or regulatory investigations on both sides of the Atlantic are currently targeting billions of dollars worth of commercial transactions and cross-border payments. Penalties in the hundred of millions of dollars are regularly disclosed sanctioning global companies and banks for their past cross-border dealings . What is the right balance between the governments’ objective of moving to a safer world and the business reality? How are judges and arbitrators expected to adjudicate a claim for non-performance triggered by foreign economic sanctions?

Conference highlights
This event is unprecedented in bringing together senior government officials from both sides of the Atlantic and decision makers in global companies as well as their counsel. Speakers and participants have a unique opportunity to discuss in an open public-private forum the regulators’ approach towards economic sanctions and the expectation of industry leaders as to how sanctions could be better conceived and applied.

Who should attend?

Lawyers, compliance officers, bank executives, general managers, payment and treasury officers in companies and banks, government officials and academics.

ICC – Economic Sanctions in the Global Economy

The National Law Review is pleased to bring you information regarding the upcoming ICC Institute’s Economic Sanctions in the Global Economy Conference:

At a time when the global financial crisis has severely impacted trade flows and hampered world growth, what is the effect and the justification for the extraterritorial application of economic sanctions?

The long arm reach of law enforcement agencies sets global companies unprecedented challenges in terms of conflict of laws and regulatory jurisdiction. Dozens of criminal, administrative or regulatory investigations on both sides of the Atlantic are currently targeting billions of dollars worth of commercial transactions and cross-border payments. Penalties in the hundred of millions of dollars are regularly disclosed sanctioning global companies and banks for their past cross-border dealings . What is the right balance between the governments’ objective of moving to a safer world and the business reality? How are judges and arbitrators expected to adjudicate a claim for non-performance triggered by foreign economic sanctions?

Conference highlights
This event is unprecedented in bringing together senior government officials from both sides of the Atlantic and decision makers in global companies as well as their counsel. Speakers and participants have a unique opportunity to discuss in an open public-private forum the regulators’ approach towards economic sanctions and the expectation of industry leaders as to how sanctions could be better conceived and applied.

Who should attend?

Lawyers, compliance officers, bank executives, general managers, payment and treasury officers in companies and banks, government officials and academics.

ICC – Economic Sanctions in the Global Economy

The National Law Review is pleased to bring you information regarding the upcoming ICC Institute’s Economic Sanctions in the Global Economy Conference:

At a time when the global financial crisis has severely impacted trade flows and hampered world growth, what is the effect and the justification for the extraterritorial application of economic sanctions?

The long arm reach of law enforcement agencies sets global companies unprecedented challenges in terms of conflict of laws and regulatory jurisdiction. Dozens of criminal, administrative or regulatory investigations on both sides of the Atlantic are currently targeting billions of dollars worth of commercial transactions and cross-border payments. Penalties in the hundred of millions of dollars are regularly disclosed sanctioning global companies and banks for their past cross-border dealings . What is the right balance between the governments’ objective of moving to a safer world and the business reality? How are judges and arbitrators expected to adjudicate a claim for non-performance triggered by foreign economic sanctions?

Conference highlights
This event is unprecedented in bringing together senior government officials from both sides of the Atlantic and decision makers in global companies as well as their counsel. Speakers and participants have a unique opportunity to discuss in an open public-private forum the regulators’ approach towards economic sanctions and the expectation of industry leaders as to how sanctions could be better conceived and applied.

Who should attend?

Lawyers, compliance officers, bank executives, general managers, payment and treasury officers in companies and banks, government officials and academics.