What BNPP Can Tell Us About Halkbank: Why Running Afoul Of U.S. Sanctions Regulations Is Bad For Business

By Kemal Su

Mehmet Hakan Atilla, a high level banker at the Turkish state-controlled Halkbank, was convicted on January 3, 2018 of helping Iran circumvent international sanctions and gain access to billions in restricted petrodollar funds.[1]  Throughout the trial, witnesses described a conspiracy to avoid U.S.-imposed Iranian sanctions that was allegedly supported by the highest levels of the Iranian and Turkish governments.  Although six (6) other banks were named during the trial, Halkbank appeared to be at the center of the conspiracy.  While the guilty verdict applied only to Mr. Atilla, the fallout for Halkbank is only just beginning.  If the U.S. government finds that Halkbank engaged in wrongdoing, the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) can impose a range of potentially debilitating penalties that will affect the future viability of the bank and may trigger a Turkish financial crisis.  In order to understand what actions the OFAC may take, it is useful to have a look at what happened when U.S. authorities investigated BNP Paribas SA (BNPP).

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Free CFIUS Webinar, Wednesday, Feb. 28, Noon to 1 p.m.

West Legal Ed’s Federal Publications Seminars will host a free one-hour briefing on legislative and policy developments relating to the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS).  CFIUS reviews proposed foreign investment in U.S. companies for potential national security concerns. U.S. companies that serve the federal government must stay abreast of how the Trump administration is implementing the CFIUS review process and how this process could change as Congress debates the first major CFIUS reform legislation in over a decade.

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Reminder: CLE Opportunities Thursday and Friday in Pinehurst

Join top business lawyers and international law practitioners in Pinehurst for two days of North Carolina Bar Association CLE and networking.

Thursday kicks off at 8 a.m. with a three-hour ethics medley video replay, followed by the 2018 Business Law Institute, planned by the NCBA Business Law Section, in the afternoon.

On Friday, the 2018 North Carolina Bar Association Business Law and International Law & Practice Sections Joint Annual Meeting begins at 8 a.m.

With a total of 13 sessions, there is something for everyone. A February favorite, the agenda includes practice-oriented program, panels with experienced practitioners on crowdfunding and international transactions, the annual business law update and programs on ethics in transactional matters and attorney wellness.

Click on any of the links above to register.

Nemo Est Supra Leges

By Jennifer Cory

The recent U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement nationwide I-9 Employment Eligibility Verification Audit of 7-Eleven stores reminds us that no one is above the law. In the early morning hours of Jan. 10, 2018, ICE reportedly visited 98 7-Eleven locations and made 21 arrests in what is being called the largest worksite compliance operation targeting an employer since President Trump took office.

The agency’s intent is clear as delivered by ICE Deputy Director Thomas D. Homan:

“Today’s actions send a strong message to U.S. businesses that hire and employ an illegal workforce: ICE will enforce
the law, and if you are found to be breaking the law, you will be held accountable. Businesses that hire illegal workers
are a pull factor for illegal immigration and we are working hard to remove this magnet. ICE will continue its efforts to
protect jobs for American workers by eliminating unfair competitive advantages for companies that exploit illegal

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International Law & Practice Section Reception with LL.M. Students

By Jennifer D’Arcy Maher

For the past several years, members of the International Law and Practice Section have enjoyed meeting international Master of Laws (LL.M.) students from North Carolina law schools at a reception hosted by the Section. In the beautiful setting of the Bar Center in early fall, members have connected with LL.M.s such as

  • Young lawyers from the Japanese law firm of Nishimura & Asahi, which hosted the Section members who went on the Section’s exchange visit to Japan;
  • Students from Middle East and African countries where members’ companies are doing business; and
  • Students from countries where members have lived, worked, or traveled.

The conversations have resulted in follow-up meetings and invitations to Thanksgiving meals and other activities that help students appreciate Southern hospitality. The reception has also resulted in many students joining the Section as student members.

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Is Standard International Antitrust Enforcement Possible? The Virgin v. British Airways Case


By Kemal Su

One of the most important functions of antitrust law is fighting against abuse of dominance or monopolization. Companies with high market shares and strong market power can exclude incumbents or potential entrants. Although national legislation and decisions of national authorities may differ, abusive behavior of a dominant firm in a given country should be deemed a violation of antitrust laws in all territories where the relevant company is dominant.

The near-similarity of antitrust laws throughout the world allows multinational companies to easily comply with the antitrust laws of countries in which they operate. However, this also generates a significant risk because such companies can face antitrust investigations in more than one country, due to a single decision or behavior.

Nonetheless, not only do market conditions or local strategies of the multinationals differ from one territory to another, so does antitrust enforcement. Those differences may stem from the willingness and determination of the antitrust authority to stop such abuses, market conditions due to the local competitors, the lack of relevant laws, or even implications on relations between countries.

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NAFTA Renegotiations Update

By Patrick Togni

To many readers of this page, December thoughts regarding the North American Free Trade Agreement (“NAFTA”) might commonly arise in the context of preparing annual NAFTA certificates of origin.  Origin documentation and other aspects of NAFTA compliance have become commonplace as the realities of a North American trading region have taken root and affected the way that companies source and manufacture their goods over the past quarter century.

NAFTA’s place in the U.S. economy became a key focus during the 2016 presidential election.  Following the inauguration of President Donald J. Trump, the Trump Administration initially pivoted from positions taken during the campaign to terminate NAFTA to renegotiation with Canada and Mexico.  For much of 2017, this process has played out in hotel conference rooms from Mexico City to Ottawa and Washington, D.C.  Negotiating teams from Mexico, Canada, and United States (comprised of more than 30 different topical groups) have held five rounds of talks regarding the renegotiation and modernization of NAFTA.

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Smart Contracts: What Are They and What Do They Mean for International Trade?

Editor’s Note: The below article is the last in a three-part series about blockchain and its implications on international trade. Read the first and second articles here.

By Sammy Naji

Of all the blockchain-based innovations, smart contracts running off blockchain may be the most transformative for international trade.  Smart contracts will go beyond eliminating the reliance on physical paper in international transactions by potentially removing the need for financial intermediaries altogether.  Smart contracts can be described as self-executing contracts that run off code, which initiate performance and automatically impose penalties when predefined conditions are met.[1]  They essentially serve as automated escrow robots.[2]

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KORUS Renegotiation Update

By Patrick Togni

North Carolina maintains deep economic ties with the Republic of Korea. In fact, the State of North Carolina maintains a trade-facilitation office in Seoul that is designed “to support export activity” and “to facilitate foreign direct investment into North Carolina.” This article provides you with a primer on recent developments regarding the renegotiation of the U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement (KORUS). United States Trade Representative (USTR) Robert Lighthizer formally notified Korea in July that the U.S. requested a special Joint Committee meeting under KORUS to start the process of negotiating to remove barriers to U.S. trade and consider amendments to the agreement. USTR’s action was consistent with the Trump Administration’s stated objective of reducing the trade deficit. KORUS entered into force in March 2002 and, from 2011 to 2016, the U.S. trade deficit in goods with Korea more than doubled from $13.2 billion to $27.6 billion.

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Scam Targeting Employers for Copies of I-9s

Employers have been receiving scam emails from news@uscis.gov, a nonexistent email address made to appear as if it is from the U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS), asking employers to send copies of their I-9s. USCIS would never request  I-9s in this manner; therefore employers should not respond. If your client has received such an email, they can report either it to https://lnkd.in/euiJdVb or uscis.webmaster@uscis.dhs.gov.

Jennifer Parser