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Is Your Company Under Investigation by BIS, CPB, DOS, or OFAC for Import/Export Violations

June 22, 2020

Is Your Company Under Investigation for Import/Export Violations by BIS, CPB, DOS, or OFAC?

Investigations conducted by the Customs and Border Protection (CPB), U.S. Department of State (DOS), Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS), and Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) can bring on substantial penalties including fines, debarment, and prison time. In the event that your business is under investigation for import or export violations, it is crucial that you seek legal representation right away.


Domestic businesses that export items overseas and import products from foreign sources come under the oversight of multiple federal agencies. These agencies enforce federal export and import controls fervently for the purpose of protecting the nation’s borders and regulating international trade, and they heavily penalize companies that fall short of meeting their requirements.


Is your company under investigation in relation to its import or export operations by the U.S. Department of State (DOS), Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS), Customs and Border Protection (CPB), Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), or any other federal agency?  If thisis the case, it is imperative that you talk with an attorney speicalizing in this field as soon as possible. You should engage federal defense counsel to take over the investigation.  Also, you need to make certain that your company (and you) are not at risk for steep penalties.


All Import/Export Control Violations Are Taken Extremely Seriously by Federal Authorities

Because of the myriad rules and regulations that apply to cross-border transactions, businesses of all sizes and in all industries often find themselves faced with allegations of violations in federal import/export control. In numerous cases, such allegations can be resolved with an explanation and demonstrable efforts to prevent similar issues from happening again in the future. This is due to the fact that most import/export violations are unintentional.  While not excusable, unintentional violations do not call for the same level of scrutiny as intentional scams. In addition, most violations involve innocuous items that have no need to raise national security or anti-terrorism concerns for the federal government


Indeed, this is not always the case, and federal authorities don’t have the luxury to take chances. Even when the circumstances indicate that an apparent violation is comparatively benign, CPB, the DOS, BIS, OFAC, and other federal law enforcement agencies will investigate to the fullest extent of their authority all the same. To protect themselves, businesses (and their owners and executives) must fully defend themselves also.  They need to be prepared to bring a compelling case for why the government’s investigation must not end in administrative enforcement action or civil or criminal charges. 


Companies Nationwide Trust Our Federal Defense Attorneys to Handle Import/Export Investigations

Companies across the country trust Spodek Law Group’s federal defense lawyers to represent them in OFAC DOS, BIS, CPB,, and other federal agency investigations. Here are some reasons for this:


  1. We are Not Just a Law Firm.

Most firms are simply a team of attorneys, most of which are not senior-level, and a small cadre of administrative professionals. Our firm is different. Here at Spodek Law Group, our federal defense team is madp of attorneys and former federal agents, all of whom come to the table with extensive knowledge and insights. When you work with our firm, you are represented by former federal prosecutors and career federal defense attorneys who boast centuries of combined experience in federal cases.  Your team will also include former Supervisory Special Agents and Special Agents in Charge from the FBI and other agencies. 


  1. Our Practice is Focused on Federal Defense.

Our law firm also sets itself apart because we focus our practice on federal matters. Most other firms primarily handle civil enforcement actions and criminal charges at the state level.  Their attorneys tend to have little (if any) experience assisting clients in avoiding the severe ramifications of facing charges of a federal offense. At Spodek Law Group, every member of our team has a great deal of experience in complex federal matters.  Our team approach makes certain that each client gains the full benefit of our former federal agents’ and federal attorneys’ collective experience. 


  1. Our Practice is Also Focused on Federal Compliance.

On top of federal defense, we also represent clients with respect to federal compliance. This is crucial, because if your business has violated federal export or import controls, you will require services that will help you remedy the violation as quickly as possible. Our federal defense team can not only help your company (and you) avoid unnecessary repercussions as a result of any violations that may have been committed.  We can also make sure you have the policies and procedures implemented to prevent similar problems in the future. 


  1. We Resolve Investigations Without Charges.

We have resolved the vast majority of our clients’ federal law enforcement investigations without charges being filed. Not only does this reduce the cost of your defense, but it also protects your company from the reputational harm that can come with being charged with a federal civil offense or crime. Of course, it also means that your company (and you) are not at risk for an unfavorable verdict in court, and this means that you can confidently refocus your time and attention on your normal day-to-day corporate responsibilities.


  1. We Give Our Clients Unwavering Litigation Defense Representation When Necessary.

When a client comes to us after learning they have been charged, or when the circumstances are such that facing civil or criminal charges cannot be avoided, we furnish unwavering defense representation during the pre-trial and trial stages. Unlike other law firms, we never  assume that going to trial is unavoidable. We have gained positive results for many of our clients at the pre-trial phase of federal civil and criminal litigation.  Our attorneys are well versed in negotiating favorable plea deals and getting charges dismissed before trial. 


Import/Export Control Violation Sanctions in the United States

Businesses and individuals targeted by the OFAC, the DOS, BIS, CPB, and other law enforcement agencies for violations in import-export control could be up against a list of potential sanctions. In any unique case, the specific penalties that are on the table depend on factors that include: (i) the scope and severity of the allegations against them; (ii) which statute(s) which the allegations are being put forth under; and, (iii) whether or not the nature of the allegations are administrative, civil, or criminal. 


Alleged import/export control violations can range from failing to obtain a license from failing to obtain an export license from DOS, CPB, or OFAC to trading with the enemy and supporting state-sponsored terrorism. The breadth of potential allegations makes it especially important for companies targeted by these and other agencies to seek experienced federal defense representation. Depending on the specific allegations involved, companies and individuals targeted for alleged import/export control violations can face sanctions including:


Loss of Registration or Debarment – Businesses and individuals facing accusations of violating the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) and connected federal statutes can end up with a debarment from participating (directory or indirectly) in any import, export, or other business activities under the auspices of ITAR. Exporters may also lose their registration with the Directorate of Defense Trade Controls (DDTC).


Criminal or Civil Fines – Businesses and individuals accused of violating ITAR, the Export Administration Regulations (EAR), the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA), the Anti-Terrorism Clarification Act (ATCA), the International Narcotics Trafficking Emergency Response by Detecting Incoming Contraband with Technology Act (INTERDICT Act), and other import/export laws and regulations may be slapped with fines in the hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars. This is a fact in both civil and criminal law enforcement proceedings. 


Federal Imprisonment– Company owners, executives, board members, and other individuals who get charged with criminal import and export violations might also end up in long-term federal incarceration. People charged with crimes under the above listed statutes (among others) can easily be at risk for long prison sentences. 


Defense Strategies for Import/Export Investigations Involving CPB, DOS, BIS, and OFAC

Considering all of this, companies and individuals who are targeted for alleged import and export control violations must execute proactive defense strategies. This is the case even if the allegations look like they are “minor” or misguided. In the event that our federal defense team needs to represent a clients in import/export control matters involving DOS, BIS, CPB, OFAC, and other federal agencies, we employ the following defense strategies:


Internal Assessment – By conducting an attorney-client privilege internal assessment, we are able to identify any potential issues and address them proactively before they end up in federal enforcement action.  

We Intervene Promptly – Our goal in promptly intervening in the government’s investigation, is to delay any possible charges and begin working toward a favorable result.


Identifying Exceptions and Safe Harbors – Federal import/export regulations are subject to a multitude of safe harbors and exceptions. If any of these applies to your company, we can employ it in protecting your interests.


Asserting Other Regulatory and Statutory Defenses – Numerous other potential statutory and regulatory defenses exists against alleged import/export violations as well. We can employ our experience to go after all available defenses on your company’s (and your) behalf. 


Diligently Pursuing Pre–Charge Resolution – Unless and until charges are filed, our efforts will be focused on resolving your case in the absence of formal legal action being initiated against you or your company.



Spodek Law Group have offered me excellent support and advice thru a very difficult time. I feel I've dealt with someone who truly cares and wants the best outcome for you and yours. I'm extremely grateful for all the help Spodek Law Group has offered me. I can't recommend them enough.

~ David Bruce

Spodek Law Group was incredibly professional and has given me the best advice I could wish for. They had been helpful and empathetic to my stressful situation. Would highly recommend Spodek Law Group to anyone I meet.

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Best service I ever had. Todd is absolutely class personified. You are in the safest hands with spodek. They have their clients interest in mind.

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