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Trump’s Africa Strategy: Anti-Corruption Enforcement Focuses on Chinese Companies and Extractives Industries

The Trump Administration’s newly released Africa Strategy is likely to bring greater anti-corruption enforcement, particularly against Chinese state-owned and private firms, as well as against African officials, and African and third country private parties. Extractives industries, particularly involving nonfuel minerals like cobalt, are likely to be of particular interest.

BIS Rulemaking on Emerging Technologies Export Controls- Analysis

The Department of Commerce, Bureau of Industry and Security on Nov. 19 published an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM) on the “Review of Controls for Certain Emerging Technologies.” The ANPRM implements the Export Control Reform Act of 2018 and raises diverse legal, regulatory, policy, and commercial issues that cut across sectors and industries. Commerce seeks to advance national security goals without harming the United States’ capacity to lead in science, technology, engineering, and manufacturing. This Regulatory Update provides analysis of the ANPRM, the relevant legal framework, and considerations for commentators.

Sovereign Wealth Funds: Governance & Risk for SWFs and Companies They Fund

Private companies that receive SWF and SOE investment, as well as the investors who arrange or co-invest with state-linked firms, should, when screening investments and assessing nonfinancial risk before and after the point of investment (and when additional investment is under consideration), the quality and risk inherent in the corporate structure and governance, as well as the business conduct controls of SWFs and SOEs, may affect them in the near- to longer term. In doing so, they should take a lesson from the PIF situation, post-Khashoggi.

After Cobalt Heist, Review Minerals Transit, Storage and Insurance Practices

At this point, one or few reported new incidents of cobalt (or other critical minerals) thefts/security risks are insufficient to make any reasonable predictions as to what action would be reasonable. However, news of such incidents should be closely monitored by suppliers/exporters, buyers/importers, finance intermediaries, and logistics services providers. Related storage, transit and insurance practices and terms should be noted for review if and when circumstances appear to warrant such action.

A Localized Approach to Corruption in Afghanistan’s Mining Sector

Thinking beyond the parameters of standard “international development” and industry playbooks, the lack of progress (or, in some cases, regression) in developing Afghanistan’s mining sector should induce interested government, industry and nongovernmental actors to consider if and how laws, policies and technical assistance can be formulated, modified and implemented in ways that might enhance their effectiveness in practice, rather than just on paper. Afghanistan, as is well known, is a Muslim majority nation in which Islamic law (as locally interpreted and implemented formally and informally) plays a significant role. Islamic law (Shari’ah), provides rules and precedents applicable not only to family matters and ritual worship, but also to business transactions, public governance, market regulation, and limitations on government dominion over private property. in these areas, and others, Islamic law and historical practices provide rules and precedents applicable to the regulation, administration and conduct of mining and other extractives businesses. These laws and precedents are just as robust, and more so in some cases, as international and foreign laws and standards.

Trump Administration Targets Chinese Dominance, Corruption in Africa

Notably, in the two pages of the NSS that are devoted to the National Security Strategy in the Africa context, none of Africa’s 54 nations are mentioned, but China is named twice. The NSS notes with concern China’s “expanding . . . economic military presence in Africa, growing from a small investor in the continent two decades ago into Africa’s largest trading partner today.” China’s methods and influence in Africa are described unflatteringly.  “Some Chinese practices,” the NSS states bluntly, “undermine Africa’s long-term development by corrupting elites, dominating extractive industries, and locking countries into unsustainable and opaque debts and commitments.”

President Trump Promulgates Global Magnitsky Sanctions: EO 13818 Analysis

The Global Magnitsky Sanctions are extraordinary for a number of reasons. First, they are global in reach and require not jurisdictional nexus between the United States and the corrupt acts and human rights abuses they target. As to corruption, both the Global Magnitsky Act and EO 13818 define it broadly, well beyond U.S. and international frameworks that are concerned primarily or exclusively with bribery. The Global Magnitsky Sanctions also depart from U.S. and international anti-corruption frameworks by directly penalizing foreign government officials for corrupt acts.
As discussed above, EO 13818 significantly expands the scope and reach of the Global Magnitsky Act and, in doing so, employs extraordinary theories of liability, such as strict and vicarious liability on the leaders or officials of any foreign entity that engaged in covered corrupt acts. Independently and together, the provisions of EO 13818 empower the United States, and particularly the Executive Branch, to sanction a wide range of persons and conduct without meeting the due process, evidentiary, or other requirements that would apply in U.S. courts.
As indicated in a prior installment of this MassPoint series, 52 individuals and entities have so far been sanctioned under EO 13818. It remains to be seen how the Trump Administration (or subsequent administrations) will implement the Global Magnitsky Sanctions. For now, foreign persons in particular—both government and private—should familiarize themselves with the Global Magnitsky Sanctions and assess their risk for liability, particularly for facilitating corrupt acts such as by transferring the proceeds of corruption.