This year, we have witnessed an extraordinary set of coordinated economic sanctions and export control regulatory actions against Russia after its invasion of Ukraine. In contrast to the fast and furious pace of regulatory action, enforcement actions did not keep pace.
This year’s enforcement actions by the US Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) are notable for their jurisdictional reach and expansion of liability theories that aren’t necessarily supported by the plain language of their regulatory authority. The Commerce Department’s Bureau of Industry & Security (BIS) enforcement actions have targeted the aerospace industry, especially in relation to Russia and Belarus. The Department of Justice (DOJ) expended much of its resources on seizing and forfeiting assets linked to Russian oligarchs, galvanizing its multilateral networks.
Interestingly, OFAC continued to target the Iranian petroleum and petrochemical sector despite news reports of intensive negotiations to revive the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).
Below we discuss some representative enforcement actions to date.