by Steven Pelak and Gwen Green
On December 28, 2015, the U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of Industry and Security (“BIS”) published a proposed rule revising its guidance on charging and penalty determinations in administrative enforcement actions under the Export Administration Regulations (“EAR”). The proposed changes would bring the agency’s guidance closely in line with the Economic Sanctions Enforcement Guidelines promulgated by the Department of the Treasury, Office of Foreign Assets Control (“OFAC”) and provide greater predictability and transparency to BIS administrative penalties. The proposed revisions to the BIS’s Guidance on Charging and Penalty Determinations (Supplement No. 1 to part 766 of the EAR) are open for comment until February 26, 2016.
Alignment with OFAC Guidelines
BIS implements the EAR under the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (“IEEPA”), the same statutory authority by which OFAC implements most of its sanctions programs. Under IEEPA, criminal penalties can reach 20 years imprisonment and $1 million per violation, and administrative monetary penalties can reach $250,000 or twice the value of the transaction, whichever is greater.
by Steven Pelak, Jeremy Paner, and Gwen Green
On November 13, 2015, Ahmad Feras Diri, of London, was arraigned for his alleged involvement in a conspiracy to illegally export laboratory equipment, including items used to detect chemical warfare agents, from the United States to Syria. The arraignment comes almost three years after Mr. Diri was originally indicted on the charges in November 2012. The arraignment highlights the efforts and distances which U.S. law enforcement will go in pursuit of those assisting the military regimes of Syria and Iran.
According to the indictment, from 2003 until November 20, 2012, Mr. Diri; his brother Mowea Diri, a citizen of Syria; d-Deri Contracting & Trading, a business located in Syria; and Harold Rinko, a U.S. citizen and 73-year old Pennsylvania resident, conspired to export EAR-controlled laboratory equipment from the United States through third party countries to customers in Syria without the required U.S. Commerce Department licenses. Some of the items allegedly exported include: a portable gas scanner used for detection of chemical warfare agents and a handheld instrument for field detection and classification of chemical warfare agents and toxic industrial chemicals. Pursuant to the Export Administration Regulations (“EAR”), a license is required to export and reexport to Syria all items subject to the EAR, other than limited and certain categories of food and medicine.
by Gwen Green
On June 3, 2015, the U.S. Department of State, Directorate of Defense Trade Controls (“DDTC”) and the U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of Industry and Security (“BIS”) published proposed rules to amend the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (“ITAR”) and the Export Administration Regulations (“EAR”) to harmonize key definitions and terms between the two regulations. The proposed rules are a part of the continuing Export Control Reform (“ECR”) initiative to enhance U.S. national and economic security, facilitate compliance with export controls, and streamline the U.S. export control system.
Harmonization of Definitions Between ITAR and EAR
DDTC and BIS have identified a series of similar terms in the ITAR and the EAR that are defined differently and that warrant either harmonization or the creation of similar structures that would identify more unambiguously the differences in how similar concepts are treated under the two regulations. DDTC proposes to therefore revise the ITAR’s definitions of the terms “defense article,” “defense services,” “technical data,” “public domain,” “export,” and “reexport or retransfer,” and create definitions for the terms “required,” “technical data that arises during, or results from, fundamental research,” “release,” “retransfer,” and “activities that are not exports, reexports, or retransfers.” Likewise, BIS proposes amendments to the EAR regarding the definitions of the terms “technology,” “required,” “peculiarly responsible,” “proscribed person,” “published,” results of “fundamental research,” “export,” “reexport,” “release,” “transfer,” and “transfer (in-country).”