Background - Practices (Details)

Sanctions & Embargoed Countries


Crowell & Moring's global economic sanctions team leverages its experience from government, industry, and as outside counsel to provide comprehensive advice on every aspect of compliance with the ever-changing nature of international sanctions regimes on behalf of our multinational  clients. With major changes announced recently with respect to sanctions on Russia and the Ukraine, Cuba, Iran, and even Venezuela and more than two dozen overlapping, and occasionally conflicting, current sanctions programs in the United States and the European Union (EU), compliance is an ever-present challenge. Our global sanctions team counsels clients on how to conduct business through these myriad complexities.

Economic sanctions can impact every aspect of business for even the most unsuspecting companies. Trade restrictions target transactions not only with countries that are subject to an embargo, but also with a growing number of terrorist organizations, drug traffickers, and other persons identified for any reason as a prohibited party. These restrictions can extend to unidentified entities that may be owned or controlled by designated persons. Moreover, since March 2014, we also have seen the dawn of sanctions targeting specific industry sectors and large multinational companies with nuanced restrictions. Our team counsels our clients through every aspect of doing business in the context of these restrictions, providing services such as:

  • Guidance with respect to the scope of restrictions on trade and financial transactions, as well as permissible transactions, licensing requirements, and enforcement activities.
  • Assistance with internal investigations and voluntary disclosures.
  • Design and implementation of compliance programs, including benchmarking and trade association participation.
  • Development of business-friendly compliance tools.
  • Representation during civil and criminal enforcement proceedings.

We regularly represent large and small U.S., EU, and third country companies in industries including financial services, banking, insurance and re-insurance, energy, high-tech companies in the semiconductor, software, and software encryption industries, manufacturers in the aerospace and defense industry, and producers and distributors of specialty chemicals. Our clients' needs, budgets, business models, and time frames vary, and our advice and compliance strategies are designed to meet each client's unique situation. To that end, we work closely with our clients to provide them practical tools to facilitate their compliance programs. For example, we have prepared:

  • Regular (daily, weekly, and/or monthly) reports of sanctions developments that are relevant to a particular client; consolidated lists of persons sanctioned by the U.S., EU, Canada, Australia, Japan and others under the rapidly changing Russia sanctions.
  • Decision-trees for determining jurisdiction or permissibility of certain transactions.
  • Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) on sanctions compliance for dissemination to the business.
  • Trainings for internal use and reference, and more.

Sanctions issues can arise in a myriad of ways and call for experienced professionals comfortable with not only every aspect of sanctions compliance, but also with issues that arise in related fields. Our deep knowledge of sanctions issues and our broader resources in related areas allow us to provide this service to clients seamlessly. 

Representative Engagements


  • Conducted regular due diligence on counter-parties and provided guidance on multi-million dollar transactions undertaken by a multinational manufacturer for use in downstream portions of the Russian oil and gas sector.
  • Advised a U.S. based Fortune 50 financial institution on the scope of sectoral restrictions on "debt," "transferable securities," and "money market instruments" under U.S. and EU law.
  • Represented, in collaboration with our customs team, a U.S. oil and gas company to seek release of exports to Russia that were improperly detained.


  • Developed a Cuba-specific compliance program for a U.S. automobile manufacturer seeking to utilize the recently announced sanctions relaxations to conduct Cuba outreach.
  • Secured a license for a multinational insurer to provide insurance policies without requiring a Cuba carveout.
  • Counseled a European subsidiary of a U.S. company on navigating compliance with both U.S. "secondary" sanctions and EU "blocking" statutes restricting such compliance.


  • Represented a U.S. manufacturer in negotiations with a European joint venture partner regarding disposition of Iran-linked sales.
  • Counseled multinational publishing company on sales to Iran under the Informational Materials exemption and Publishing General Licenses.
  • Drafted guidance for an EU manufacturer on permissible transactions under the sanctions relaxations under the Joint Plan of Action.

Related Services

In addition to our experience and knowledge of sanctions and embargoed countries, we work closely with our international trade team on other related issues, including export controls, anti-money laundering, customs, and antiboycott law and regulation. 

Export Controls
Export controls and sanctions regulations present significant challenges and potential compliance risks for global companies. Our team is experienced in multiple export control regimes that create complex compliance obligations with practical and commercial implications for businesses, including inventory management and shipping delay challenges.

Anti-Money Laundering – International Financial Compliance and Enforcement
Global anti-money laundering (AML) laws and regulations have gained prominence since September 11, 2001 in promoting, at the state level, the role of the financial gatekeeper, to secure the global financial system. Our lawyers are well versed in the Financial Actions Task Force (FATF) Regulations and in corresponding implementation at the local level, including AML program requirements in the U.S. and EU.     

Antiboycott Law and Regulation
As part of its export controls practice, we are often called on to advise companies on the application of the Antiboycott Law. Key challenges for companies include knowing how to identify boycott-related requests, when to report them, and how to address them while pursuing business opportunities.