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Bank Shareholders as Anti-Money Laundering Enforcers: Corporate Governance-AML Nexus

Two proxy advisors are urging Deutsche Bank’s shareholders to vote against directors and senior managers for AML compliance lapses. The advice is significant as it clearly connects anti-financial crime compliance to corporate governance by activating bank shareholders as powerful enforcers anti-money laundering expectations. If Deutsche’s shareholders heed the calls of proxy advisors and unseat members of the bank’s management for AML lapses, they will set a cautionary precedent for other publicly-owned banks. But even if Deutsche’s shareholders do not so vote, the proxy advice given by ISS and ECGS has communicated a clear message that bank anti-money laundering compliance is part and parcel of corporate governance and a measure of directors’ and senior officers’ overall performance.

Tech War: U.S. Whole-of-Government Approach to China is a Force Multiplier

The U.S. government has adopted and is implementing a “whole-of-government” strategy to counter China. The whole-of-government approach entails a range of legal and policy measures to curb China’s access to U.S. technology, by lawful and unlawful means. These measures include, but are not limited to, stricter curbs on foreign investment in U.S. technology; restrictions on exports of “emerging technologies” like artificial intelligence; exclusions of Chinese firms from U.S. government and private supply chains through company bans; prosecutions of intellectual property theft; measures to counter “academic espionage” in American academic and research institutions; and, indirectly, and, indirectly, sanctions enforcement.

Trade-Based Debt is Subject to Russia Sectoral Sanctions Prohibitions (Haverly Systems)

The Haverly case is instructive as it clarifies OFAC’s position, with respect to Haverly and likely more broadly, as to the meaning of “debt” under Directive 2, which prohibits, by U.S. persons and within the United States, dealings in “new debt” issued by parties that are listed on the OFAC-maintained Sectoral Sanctions Identifications List (SSIL) or not so listed but are owned 50% or more by one or more sanctioned parties.

Anti-Corruption Enforcement is Globalized

As anti-corruption standards and enforcement practices become more uniform, cooperation among enforcement authorities will increase in frequency and effectiveness. In the FCPA enforcement context and in others, authorities have imposed record-setting fines, and likely will continue to do so with greater frequency, particularly where violations are egregious, widespread, or have broad impact. In such an environment, monetary penalties for avoidable violations may no longer be absorbable as the cost of doing business. As a matter of good business practice, companies of all sizes should take steps to strengthen compliance programs appropriately for their industries, organizational structures, home obligations, and the jurisdictions in which they do business.

Huawei, Questions About Ownership, and the Foreign Agents Registration Act

The United States has adopted a whole-of-government approach to counter China’s “economic aggression” or “economic espionage,” umbrella terms that encompass a range of conduct including IP theft, forced technology transfer, academic espionage, and influence operations in the United States. The whole-of-government approach illustrates that the most strategically significant and complex confrontation between the United States and China is not the “trade war.” Rather, the race to dominate future technologies like artificial intelligence and 5G underpins the most complex legal and policy issues between the two nations. The U.S.-China tech war, and the United States’ whole-of-government strategy, has put Chinese technology companies under the hot light of U.S. legal and political scrutiny. Companies like Huawei and ZTE, relative unknowns in the United States until recently, have found themselves on the wrong side of U.S. law enforcement.

Protect Our Universities Act Restricts Foreign Student Participation in “Sensitive” Academic Research

The “Protect Our Universities Act of 2019” is a a bill “to create a task force within the Department of Education to address the threat of foreign government influence and threats to academic research integrity on college campuses, and for other purposes.” Among other things, the Bill would restrict foreign student participation in federally funded academic research deemed “sensitive” to national security.

OFAC Expanded General License for U.S. Persons to Transact in Certain Inherited and Other Property in Iran

Under amended Section 560.543 of the ISTR, individuals who are U.S. citizens and permanent residents[2]  “are authorized to engage in transactions necessary and ordinarily incident to the sale of real and personal property in Iran and to transfer the proceeds to the United States,” but only if the real and personal property was (1) “acquired before the individual became a U.S. person” or (2) was “inherited from persons in Iran.