United States: Don’t Try This At Home Or Abroad: Export Controls And Sanctions Violations Lead To $21 Million In Penalties For Dutch Company Fokker Services B.V.

We frequently discuss enforcement actions in this blog, because understanding enforcement is a key aspect of trade compliance. From a fifty-thousand foot view, each enforcement case serves as a cautionary tale about the overall need for compliance. On a more granular level, enforcement actions provide valuable insight into how the government thinks about and targets violations of law. These cases also showcase key details about international business practices that might pose “red flags,” and let us learn from others’ mistakes. Effective compliance requires companies to commit high-level attention and large dollar amounts, but also requires entities to critically respond to the facts and details of particular markets on the ground.

The June 5 settlement of Netherlands-based aerospace service provider Fokker Services, B.V. (“Fokker”) with three different U.S. government agencies is a great learning tool. The proposed penalties against Fokker totaled $21 million for violations of U.S. economic sanctions (on Iran, Sudan, and Burma) and U.S. export controls laws, arising from Fokker’s unauthorized exports of aircraft spare parts from the United States.

In a significant recent twist, on July 9, Judge Richard Leon of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia delayed signing off on the deal, voicing “great concerns” about certain aspects of the settlement terms. A hearing has been scheduled for July 24, 2014 to address some of these concerns.


Legal Framework. The Export Administration Regulations (“EAR”), which are administered by the U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of Industry and Security (“BIS”), control exports and re-exports of commercial items such as aircraft parts, for both national security and foreign policy reasons. The EAR covers all items listed on the Commerce Control List that either are in the United States or are of U.S. origin, wherever located ...

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