Reaching Agreement on Compliance with International Sanctions

The Issue

After the United States and European Union imposed sanctions on Iran, an overseas client that imported, refined and distributed large quantities of Iranian petroleum products sought urgent assistance. The client faced immense pressure from its customers to meet current supply requirements. At the outset of our representation, the client could not rely on its own government, an important U.S. ally, to adequately protect the company’s interests.

The Strategy

n consultations with the client, we determined that the best initial course of action was to seek a temporary waiver of economic sanctions from the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), with the support of the State Department, in exchange for the client’s agreement to significantly reduce imports of Iranian oil. Our longer term strategy was to reach agreement on a specific percentage reduction in oil imports that would justify ongoing U.S. sanction waivers.

The Impact

After intense negotiations, the client reached agreement with OFAC and the State Department to cut its imports of Iranian petroleum products by 50 percent for the indefinite future, entitling it to continuing waivers of U.S. economic sanctions. During the discussions leading up to this agreement, the client and its government, as a demonstration of good faith agreed to eliminate all Iranian petroleum imports for a period of two months. As a result of these efforts, the client was able to able to meet its ongoing supply requirements at a reduced level and thereby avoid legal retaliation from customers as well as maintain its commercial credibility and excellent reputation.

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