Department of State – Sanctions Policy

The US Department of State (State) plays an important role in developing and implementing US economic sanctions law and policy. State builds international support for implementation of economic sanctions, provides foreign policy guidance to the Department of Treasury and Commerce on sanctions implementation, administers and enforces a growing array of so-called “secondary” sanctions, and works with Congress to draft legislation.

Because of its advisory role with Treasury, Commerce, and the White House, consulting with State in any investigation, inquiry, or US government decision with US foreign policy implications is vital. Such matters include business decisions on whether to enter or exit markets in sanctioned countries or regions, investigations involving the potential imposition of secondary sanctions, requests for licensing authorization from other agencies, and government decisions to add or remove entities or persons from lists of sanctioned parties, including the Specially Designated Nationals (SDN) list. State also conducts outreach on sanctions issues for a wide range of interested parties, including NGOs, companies, and diaspora groups. Businesses therefore, can find State a helpful agency to approach to discuss the impact of sanctions on US persons, organizations, and companies operating around the world.

Latham regularly consults with and represents US and non-US clients before State. The firm’s clients have included individuals and businesses in a broad range of industries, including: aerospace and defense, energy, financial services, automotive, electronics, emerging technologies, life sciences, telecommunications, and not-for-profit.

Latham can assist clients with:

  • Advocating for the removal of certain individuals or entities from the SDN list or other sanctioned party lists, and seeking support from State when removal is in the best interests of the US. 
  • Consulting with State when clients are considering entering or leaving markets in sanctioned countries or regions, and using information from State to help clients assess and manage the risks of conducting business in these jurisdictions. 
  • Engaging with State on a broad range of issues arising under US secondary sanctions, including whether business activities by non-US person clients fall within the scope of secondary sanctions and advising clients on appropriate legal, policy, and business responses to State inquiries. 
  • Leading large-scale investigations, both internal and in response to government inquiries, into possible instances of non-compliance with US export controls, preparing disclosures, designing and implementing compliance program enhancements, and negotiating resolutions with the relevant US government agencies.    

The firm has helped numerous global companies achieve successful outcomes in some of the most challenging and critical sanctions policy matters. Latham draws on extensive experience and strong working relationships with State staff to effectively partner with a broad range of entities in this complex, sensitive, and aggressively enforced area of law.