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Export Controls & Economic Sanctions

Vinson & Elkins has a comprehensive Export Controls & Economic Sanctions practice with extensive experience representing clients in investigations, enforcement matters, litigation, counseling, and public policy issues arising in connection with the full range of U.S. export controls and trade sanctions. Our team represents clients on matters involving all relevant federal agencies, including the Department of State (DOS) Directorate of Defense Trade Controls (DDTC), the Department of Commerce (DOC) Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS), the Department of Defense (DOD), the Department of Treasury, Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), the Department of Justice (DOJ), Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), the Department of Energy (DOE), the Census Bureau, and the various agencies of the intelligence community.

We advise clients in connection with the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR), the Export Administration Regulations (EAR), the numerous sanctions programs and regulations administered by OFAC, the Foreign Trade Regulations (FTR), and related areas, including the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA), Foreign Military Sales (FMS), and Foreign Military Financed (FMF) sales.

Our clients include domestic and multinational corporations, universities, and individuals involved in regulated transfers of equipment, software, and technology. We assist clients across a wide range of industries, such as defense, intelligence, aerospace, automotive, energy, shipbuilding, electronics, computer hardware and software, e-commerce, media, consumer sporting goods and retail, and telecommunications. Our lawyers have developed numerous compliance programs tailored to our clients’ profiles and trained company employees regarding the operation of U.S. export controls laws and economic sanctions regulations. V&E’s Export Controls & Economic Sanctions lawyers have handled many notable enforcement actions, both criminal and civil, involving the ITAR, the EAR, OFAC sanctions, and the FTR. We have handled sensitive internal investigations and disclosures involving DDTC, BIS, OFAC, and Census. Clients have called on V&E’s team to conduct both large and small government-mandated audits of their export controls and sanctions compliance. Our lawyers have substantial experience in licensing, hardware and technology jurisdiction determinations at DDTC, commodity classification requests at BIS, and seeking advisory opinions from OFAC. 

Lawyers in V&E’s Export Controls & Economic Sanctions practice are well known by industry coalitions, export-focused trade groups, government regulators responsible for administering and enforcing U.S. export and sanctions laws, and individuals in academic circles. Over the past several years, we have provided training to hundreds of corporate and government export controls specialists through seminars and law school instruction.

Additional Information

Practice Highlights

  • As part of the closing of an almost $1 billion transaction, led the investigation and voluntary disclosure of numerous possible ITAR violations, resulting in a quick closeout of the issues at DDTC without fine or penalty
  • Retained by a private equity firm divesting of a line of businesses that included a U.S.-based oil and gas services business on the eve of the close of a transaction to handle all DDTC/ITAR-related requirements and a CFIUS filing which had not been identified by non-U.S. deal counsel; working with the buyer’s counsel from another AMLAW 100 firm, achieved a closeout within 30 days of filing at CFIUS, substantially mitigating disruption to the transaction
  • Retained by a Fortune 100 company to investigate and disclose to DDTC possible ITAR violations of a newly acquired entity
  • Investigated and assisted the client in voluntarily disclosing the possible export to destinations proscribed under the ITAR of certain United States Munitions List (USML) controlled drawings, resulting in DDTC’s close out of the matter without fine or penalty
  • For a Fortune 100 company, led an investigation, preparation of a voluntary disclosure, and the resolution that disclosure at OFAC without fines or penalties concerning possible violations of the Iran sanctions related to a divestiture of a European operation of the company
  • Retained by a Chinese oil and gas company to address the improper identification of it on numerous state and local government entity sanctions lists for allegedly doing business in Iran
  • Led the buyer’s side on CFIUS, U.S. export control and DSS issues of an acquisition by a foreign-owned entity of a Big Data software company and established a mitigated entity approved by DSS, allowing the company to continue to perform its full array of government contracts and subcontracts
  • Served as lead export/trade regulation counsel on Shougang/BeijingWest Industries’ acquisition of Delphi Corporation’s automobile parts business, which was named by Asian-Counsel magazine as one of the “Deals of the Year 2009”
  • Represented software manufacturers and e-commerce businesses on compliance with export regulations over encryption-capable products and technology, including export compliance issues and licensing associated with employment of foreign persons in the U.S