Investigations Practice Background 2

International Trade Investigations


Complex government regulations and unpredictable geopolitical forces are raising the stakes for businesses seeking to expand in foreign markets or protect domestic interests. Today’s challenges require counsel with a deep understanding of global trade laws and the agility to adapt to rapidly changing legal requirements. With decades of experience helping companies and sovereign governments navigate the international trade landscape, Crowell & Moring’s Investigations Group handles the full range of trade-related investigations and compliance matters, including anti-dumping/countervailing duties, customs, sanctions, export controls, anti-boycott, and anti-corruption/anti-bribery and anti-money laundering.

Crowell & Moring’s trade investigation capabilities are the most comprehensive among major U.S. and international law firms. We are engaged in dispute-resolution forums worldwide and recognize that negotiation and settlement can be as effective as litigation. From our offices in London, Brussels, Washington, D.C., New York, and California, we help clients identify and minimize potential risks in markets, establish effective trade policies and procedures, and resolve matters with regulators where and when they arise.


Our trade investigation lawyers understand firsthand the priorities and goals of regulatory and law-enforcement agencies — that depth of understanding allows us to develop and offer multifaceted approaches to the issues our clients face. Many of our greatest successes have hinged on our effective public policy representation before the administrative and legislative offices that influence or dictate trade policy and law. With a number of former government and industry leaders on our team, and working in tandem with our affiliated international trade consulting firm, C&M International, we successfully negotiate effective resolutions with government officials and agency representatives worldwide, and help ensure compliance with settlements involving independent monitors. We also work closely with client leadership and boards to conduct discrete, wide-ranging internal compliance reviews. We advise clients on the full spectrum of international trade-related investigations, including:

  • Anti-boycott. We advise companies on the application of Anti-boycott laws and regulations, helping identify, address, and report (as appropriate) boycott-related requests; conduct internal assessments and develop risk-based compliance programs, and conduct internal investigations related to possible violations, including voluntary self-disclosures; we also defend companies under investigation by the Office of Antiboycott (OAC) Compliance for possible violations of the law.
  • Anti-dumping and countervailing duties. In addition to representing a broad array of corporate clients on both the petitioner and respondent sides of AD/CVD investigations and reviews, we also have provided technical anti-dumping and countervailing/anti-subsidy advice to six national governments and have been involved in nearly half of the anti-dumping cases initiated by the European Commission.
  • Customs. Our global customs team has handled a broad range of customs investigations related to underpayment of duties, false country of origin marking or labeling claims, undervaluation, misclassification under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule, false free trade agreement claims and foreign trade zone violations, forced labor claims, and other alleged compliance failures.
  • Export controls. We conduct internal investigations involving potential ITAR/EAR violations and combine our years of substantive export control knowledge with practical experience in managing issues involving exports, reexports, and other potential violations. These investigations may be self-initiated because of internal assessments, whistleblowers, or other events (such as corporate acquisitions or divestitures) or when agents follow leads gathered in other cases. Our work spans the range of industries, including defense, aerospace, IT, encryption software and devices, chemicals, and virtually every technology subject to US export controls.
  • Anti-money laundering (AML). We count in our ranks colleagues who have worked within the Departments of the Treasury and Justice and use our experience to counsel financial institution and non-financial institutions on developing stream lined audits and internal reviews of AML compliance programs. Where appropriate, we work with clients – U.S. and non-U.S. financial institutions and other entities covered by the Bank Secrecy Act Regulations to respond to government investigations, file suspicious transaction reports (SARs or STRs), and engage in remediation in order to ensure risk based compliance programs. We also work with colleagues in our Brussels and London offices in order to provide comprehensive services incorporating EU and Member State money laundering and data privacy obligations.
  • Anti-Corruption, Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA). We have successfully conducted numerous investigations into alleged violations of U.S., UK, and other international anti-bribery and anti-corruption laws, helping multinational corporations, their boards and senior executives mount an effective defense against allegations of wrongdoing.
  • Foreign investments. We advise clients on whether proposed transactions implicate the Foreign Investment and National Security Act of 2007 (FINSA) and notifications to the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS). We also assist clients with respect to foreign investment involving a U.S. company performing classified activities subject to the National Industrial Security Program (NISPOM), in negotiating and implementing instruments to mitigate the potential “foreign ownership, control, or influence.”
  • Sanctions and embargoed countries. We counsel multinational companies on alleged violations of sanctions and all aspects of economic sanctions – whether multilateral, bilateral or unilateral. In particular, we assist companies in navigating emerging developments with respect to Russia and the Ukraine, Cuba, Iran, and Venezuela, the exit of the United Kingdom from the European Union. Inevitably, given the web of sanctions laws and regulations across jurisdictions, we also work with clients to engage in internal reviews of compliance programs. Where appropriate, we assist clients in developing streamlined compliance reviews in response to government-initiated investigations.
  • Unfair trade. We have extensive experience representing clients in unfair trade investigations conducted by U.S. regulatory agencies, including more than 200 matters spanning 12 jurisdictions and covering a broad array of commodities.


Chambers Europe, Chambers USA, The Legal 500, U.S. News–Best Lawyers, and The World’s Leading Lawyers guide have all ranked Crowell & Moring among the top international trade practices. Our international trade investigations team includes a number of former, senior officials in U.S. federal agencies, including:

  • Customs and Border Protection
  • The Department of Homeland Security
  • The Department of Commerce
  • The Department of Defense
  • The Department of State
  • The Department of the Treasury
  • The International Trade Commission
  • The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative

Representative Matters


  • Helped a professional-services firm. We have conducted extensive, effective legal analyses and prepared voluntary disclosures that that have helped a multinational professional services firm avoid significant anti-boycott penalties.
  • Obtained a no action result for transportation company. We successfully demonstrated that the events under investigation, despite adverse public allegations, were not subject to nor violations of the anti-boycott law.
  • Advised a financial services company. We worked with our client to conduct internal investigations, draft voluntary self-disclosures and correspond with the U.S. government, saving the company the costs associated with fines and penalties, maintaining its strong compliance record, and avoiding negative publicity.

Anti-dumping and countervailing duties

  • Represented leading European steel manufacturers. We successfully represented JSC Severstal, defeating the first CVD case filed against Russia on cold-rolled steel imports. We are also representing leading Italian steel manufacturers in separate AD and CVD proceedings concerning importation of products, including cut-to-length steel plate, steel wire rod, and cold-drawn mechanical tubing.
  • Representing multinational aluminum extrusion products manufacturers. We counseled General Motors, Electrolux, and a group of nine Chinese producers/exporters in the U.S. Department of Commerce’s review of aluminum extrusion products from the People’s Republic of China (PRC). We are also representing Meridian Products LLC and Newell-Rubbermaid in separate proceedings before the U.S. Court of International Trade concerning the scope and applicability of the anti-dumping duty order on aluminum extrusions from the PRC.
  • Defended an agricultural machinery manufacturer. We successfully represented Caterpillar before the U.S. Department of Commerce in an anti-dumping investigation of ball bearings from Japan. Our lawyers appeared at the hearing, testified and submitted briefs on behalf of Caterpillar and helped the company avoid supplemental import duties in excess of $10 million.

Customs, including classification, valuation and origin

  • Reduced exposure for businesses. Prevented penalties through filing of prior disclosures, or won significant reduction of fines and release of seized goods in administrative penalty and forfeiture proceedings, for oil and gas, aerospace, automotive, agricultural, food and beverage, textile and apparel, pharmaceutical, and financial services clients.
  • Resolved customs investigations worldwide. Represented clients in customs investigations in Latin America, Southeast Asia, Africa, Canada and the EU related to customs value, HTS classification, and preference claims, resulting in no payment of additional duties or penalties.

Export controls

  • Managed audit for aerospace company. We conducted the audit mandated in The Boeing Company’s settlement with the Directorate of Defense Trade Controls (DDTC) related to the Sea Launch program.
  • Conducted investigation of Asian IT company. We handled the investigation relating to an export control enforcement action involving a Singapore-based IT company with on licenses to Iran, Sudan, and Syria, among other destinations, including IT system access and encryption issues.

Anti-money laundering (AML)

  • Money laundering investigation. Represent global financial institution in money laundering investigation involving organized crime and virtual currencies.
  • FINRA Investigation. Represented a well-known broker-dealer as lead counsel in FINRA enforcement investigation regarding allegations of trading unregistered securities without appropriate money-laundering detection capabilities in place. Negotiated a favorable settlement with FINRA.

Anti-Corruption, Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) and anti-terrorism finance

  • Led an international, internal investigation for a global consumer products company. On behalf of Ralph Lauren Corporation, we conducted an internal investigation of FCPA issues in Argentina, including conducting multiple witness interviews as well as email, and document reviews in two languages. We assisted the client in its self-reporting to both the SEC and the DOJ and orchestrated all remediation efforts, including risk assessments, compliance and training review, and implementation. We successfully negotiated unprecedented dual non-prosecution agreements (NPAs) with both agencies, which was the first-ever non-prosecution agreement that the SEC had entered into involving the FCPA. We also achieved a substantial discount of the monetary penalties and convinced both the DOJ and SEC not to impose a corporate monitor. Finally, we drafted and presented annual NPA compliance reports to the agencies over the course of a two-year reporting term under the non-prosecution agreements, which concluded in April 2015.
  • Represented a telecommunications company regarding operations in Eastern Europe. We represented Magyar Telekom, a former NYSE-listed company, in internal and DOJ/SEC investigations over the course of three years, revamped the client’s anti-corruption/ethics program and procurement controls for operations throughout Eastern Europe, and provided regular reports to the board of directors. We successfully negotiated a two-year deferred prosecution agreement (DPA) with the DOJ, and drafted and presented annual DPA compliance reports to the DOJ and SEC, ultimately securing dismissal of criminal information upon the successful conclusion of the DPA.

Sanctions and embargoed countries

  • Represented a U.S. manufacturer. We assisted our client in conducting a global review into sourcing in order to address sub-suppliers’ use of components originating from North Korea.
  • Advising a major corporation. We investigated attempts by Iran to purchase products manufactured in the United States and are helping the company take legal action against an unauthorized vendor in Iran that is using the client’s intellectual property.
  • Assisted a global financial institution. We conducted a comprehensive review into potential third-country Cuban transactions, during which investigation we also addressed EU blocking statutes and data privacy requirements.

Unfair trade

  • Counseled domestic and foreign companies on Section 232. We advised domestic and foreign companies on Section 232 national security proceedings involving steel and aluminum importation.
  • Represented a multinational manufacturer. We conducted regular due diligence on counter-parties and provided guidance on multimillion-dollar transactions undertaken by a multinational manufacturer for use in downstream portions of the Russian oil and gas sector.
  • Counseled a global financial institution. We 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 laws.