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Cleveland Manufacturer Violated OFAC Sanctions By Allowing Shipments To Iran - Know Your Customer and Know Their Customer

Between 2013 and 2017, UniControl exported 21 shipments of its products to two European customers. These 21 shipments were subsequently reexported to Iran, which violated the Iranian Transactions and Sanctions Regulations (“ITSR”) listed in 31 CFR Part 560.

WARNING SIGNS

UniControl encountered multiple alerts before and during this period and failed to take proper actions. In 2010, several years prior to the first of these shipments, a European trade partner of UniControl inquired whether UniControl could supply a significant market it had identified in Iran. UniControl turned down the opportunity but did not confirm that the sales to this European partner were not then being shipped to the Iranian market.

In 2014, UniControl and a European customer entered a sales agreement that listed Iran as a country to which the partner could re-sell these products. In 2016, UniControl offered to ship products directly to a purported third-party European end user, but the customer refused this offer in an attempt to obfuscate the end user. At European trade conferences, UniControl had direct interactions with Iranian nationals, but did not question their European trade partner on the interest. Finally, UniControl received a request from its European partner to remove the “Made in USA” labels from its products with the explanation that the Iranian end user may have issues with the product origin.

FIXING THE PROBLEM

UniControl consulted with outside counsel and then voluntarily self-disclosed these violations. In total, UniControl engaged in 21 prohibited transactions with a total product value of $687,189. The maximum statutory penalty that UniControl faced was $5,423,766. However, once all mitigating and aggravating factors were weighed, UniControl was able to reach a settlement with OFAC for $216,464.

Parallel to UniControl’s cooperation with OFAC and ceasing all shipments to its European trade partners, the company also righted its own “compliance ship.” This began by retaining outside counsel to strengthen their export control procedures. End-user certificates were created to make sure that buyers are not reselling to prohibited end users. These certificates are also requested from second and third level buyers of reexported products. UniControl added a Destination Control Statement within the footer of many of their trade documents to remind recipients of the restrictions on reselling, transferring, manipulating, or otherwise disposing of their products.

For a review of your export policies and processes, or questions on trade compliance, please contact International Law Attorney Kevin Burwell at kdburwell@bmdllc.com or 330-253-3715. 

COVID, Privacy and More! New Challenges for Physicians in 2021

While hopefully we are coming out of the pandemic, the legal repercussions related to legislative initiatives and other actions during that time continue to apply to businesses in general and healthcare practices. It is a helpful reminder that practices make certain that they maintain accurate records in order to satisfy the reporting requirements under the various COVID-related bills and protect yourself from future employment claims.

Banking and Cannabis: Bank Lending, The Next Frontier

A fortuitous combination of developments and circumstances present the banking and cannabis industries a large opportunity to enhance each of their respective bottom lines: conventional bank lending, payment processing, treasury management and other services, and bank administered SBA and revenue bond financing to cannabis businesses.

EKRA Updates: COVID-19 Testing, Employment Agreements, and More

Ever since the Eliminating Kickbacks in Recovery Act (“EKRA”) was passed by Congress in 2018, we have been waiting to see how the law is interpreted and ultimately enforced. As a reminder, EKRA seeks to eliminate kickbacks in return for patient referrals to facilities that treat those overcoming addiction, such as recovery homes, clinical treatment centers, and laboratories. (NOTE: EKRA applies to all laboratories, not just those related to addiction treatment.) It is essentially an expansion of the Anti-Kickback Statute, which only applies to those services that are reimbursable through federal healthcare programs such as Medicare and Medicaid, to now also cover services reimbursable through private insurers.

New Interpretation of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act Rocks the Industry

It’s not lost on us that our interpretation of § 1692c(b) runs the risk of upsetting the status quo in the debt-collection industry. This quote from the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeal in its April 21, 2021 opinion from the case of Hunstein v. Preferred Collection and Management Services, Inc. is possibly the biggest understatement in the history of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. At a minimum, the Eleventh Circuit’s opinion has sent shockwaves and fear throughout multiple sectors of the financial services industry.

Construction Industry Trends and Predictions Through 2021 and Beyond: Insurance and Emerging Threats

A 2021 survey identified three key issues impacting the construction industry in 2021: (1) the financial health of contractors; (2) the continuing risk of the pandemic; and (3) technology driving productivity, but also increasing the risk of cybersecurity threats. With this backdrop, insurance premiums in the construction industry are generally on the rise in 2021.