DOJ wants your U.S. export controls and sanctions disclosures: what's the impact?

November 30, 2016 Published Work

On 2 October 2016, the U.S. Department of Justice (‘DOJ'), National Security Division (‘NSD') published guidance [1] encouraging organizations to voluntarily self-disclose possible willful – and therefore criminal – violations of U.S. export controls and sanctions directly to NSD. This guidance is applicable not only to U.S. companies, but to non-U.S. companies that are subject to the extraterritorial reach of U.S. export and sanctions laws. Because this policy marks an extension of the U.S. government's efforts to hold individuals criminally liable for corporate wrongdoing, companies everywhere should take notice.

NSD's newly announced guidance, at its core, encourages companies to disclose possible criminal violations of export control and sanctions laws, and offers leniency and benefits to companies that do so and, then, cooperate with law enforcement. This guidance aligns NSD with other DOJ components that have promulgated disclosure guidelines in an attempt to bolster DOJ's efforts to hold companies and – especially – individuals criminally responsible for regulatory wrongdoing. Consistent with the Yates Memo [2] issued late last year, NSD's guidance makes clear that its primary purposes include encouraging companies to implement stronger efforts to ‘prevent and detect' violations, and increasing NSD's ability ‘to prosecute individual wrongdoers whose conduct might otherwise have gone undiscovered or been impossible to prove' [emphasis added].

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