Obama’s Not Slowing Down On Cuba: New Steps Forward Open Doors (and Humidors!) for Collaboration

With fewer than 100 days left in office, President Obama is not slowing down on his efforts to normalize relations between the United States and Cuba. Today, several changes to the Cuban Assets Control Regulations (CACR) and Export Administration Regulations (EAR) go into effect. Those changes build on the plan President Obama laid out in December 2014 to increase the means for Americans and Cubans to collaborate in business, education, travel, and humanitarian work. The amendments will strengthen the ties between the two countries, stimulate Cuba’s private sector, create commercial opportunities for both the American and Cuban people, and potentially improve the lives of many Cubans. U.S. companies looking to expand into Cuba should review these changes carefully to identify and develop strategies for growth.

We have included some highlights from the updated regulations below that could significantly  impact your business (or may prompt you to create a new one!). For the full CACR amendments, click here. For the full EAR amendments, click here.

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FCC Liberalizes Rules for Foreign Investment in U.S. Broadcast Licensees

On September 30, 2016, the FCC adopted an order designed to liberalize and streamline the foreign ownership review process for broadcast licensees (the “Broadcast Liberalization Order”).  Section 310(b) of the Communications Act caps at 25 percent the amount of indirect foreign investment permissible in a U.S. broadcast, common carrier, or aeronautical fixed or en route radio licensee without obtaining FCC approval.  Prior to 2013, the long-standing presumption among FCC practitioners was that the FCC simply would not allow indirect foreign ownership of a U.S. broadcast licensee in excess of the 25% benchmark in the Communications Act, even though the Act expressly contemplated such investments so long as they were blessed by the FCC.  The Commission issued an Order in 2013 clarifying that the 25% foreign investment mark served only as a trigger requiring the FCC to review applications on a case-by-case basis, not an automatic bar to such investment.  Foreign investment in broadcast licensees above 25% required prior express consent, based on an evaluation of public interest and national security considerations.  Also in 2013, the FCC streamlined the process for reviewing foreign ownership amounts in excess of 25% for common carrier and aeronautical radio licensees.  The recent Broadcast Liberalization Order largely extended these same rules and procedures to broadcast licensees, with certain exceptions and modifications.

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A Surge In Populism: Dangers To Transnational Trade In The Americas And Reasons For Hope

The ongoing presidential election in the United States has underscored a move against free trade by both of the main political parties.  This article briefly summarizes some of the proven benefits of free trade and juxtaposes these with the stated positions of the Democratic and Republican parties in the pending presidential election.  The article also examines, and disposes of, several of the key criticisms of the legal framework underpinning further trade integration.  The article ends hopefully—historically, U.S. Presidents have abandoned anti-trade campaign rhetoric once in the Oval Office.

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In Wake of Panama Papers Scandal Obama Calls for Stricter Bank Regulations, Tax Rules

In a news conference today President Obama addressed rules and proposed regulations announced Thursday intended to help the U.S. fight tax evasion and other crimes connected to anonymous offshore companies and accounts.  The announcements come after a month of intense review by the administration following the first release of the so-called Panama Papers, millions of documents stolen or leaked from Panamanian law firm Mossack, Fonseca.  The papers have revealed a who’s who of international politicians, business leaders, sports figures and celebrities involved with financial transactions accomplished through anonymous shell corporations.

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Hotels and Hospitality in Cuba: OFAC and Obama Paving the Way

With more flights, relaxing regulations, a historic presidential trip to Cuba, and news of hospitality services expanding into Cuba, the pathway into Cuba for hotels and hospitality companies seems smooth.  But businesses should look out for the potential hurdles and compliance risks.  Don’t fret – we can help you welcome your guests.

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Argentina Lifts its Currency Exchange, Exports, and Imports Restrictions

Mr. Mauricio Macri was sworn-in as President of Argentina on December 10, 2015. Four business days after taking office, Mr. Alfonso Prat-Gay, the new Minister of Finance,  announced the fulfilment of the campaign promise to end the severe restrictions regarding currency exchange, exports and imports that stagnated the country’s economy over the last four years and made a daunting, if not impossible, task for foreign companies to remit proceeds outside of Argentina, and for national companies to make transfers abroad. Continue Reading

Congress Passes Passport Revocation Bill Aimed At Large Tax Debtors

On December 4, 2015, the President signed into law HR 22, which requires the IRS to notify the State Department of any U.S. citizen who owes more than $50,000 in federal taxes. The State Department is then directed to revoke the person’s U.S. passport and to deny issuance of any new passport until the debt is paid. Continue Reading

The FCPA Challenges of Doing Business in Cuba

On December 17, 2014, President Barack Obama announced a set of diplomatic and economic changes aimed at normalizing relations between the United States and Cuba after nearly 55 years of barriers between the two countries. Obama stated that diplomatic relations would be re-established with Cuba, and on May 29 his administration removed Cuba from the U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism. New regulations issued by the U.S. Department of Treasury and U.S. Department of Commerce on January 16, 2015, allow certain U.S. exports of telecommunications, construction materials and farming equipment, and allow U.S. banking transactions in Cuba.

Click here to read the full article originally published by Corporate Counsel.

New EU Rules on Disclosure of Ultimate Beneficial Owners

On June 5, new EU’s anti-money laundering (AML) rules, namely the Fourth EU Anti-Money Laundering Directive (“4AMLD”) and a new Regulation on the information accompanying transfer of funds were published in the Official Journal of the European Union.  Together, this legislation represents the revised EU framework on anti-money laundering and terrorist financing. Member States have until June 26, 2017 to transpose the requirements of the 4AMLD into national law.  Continue Reading

New I-9 Issues Facing Employers with Recently Legalized Employees

As more and more workers acquire temporary legal status in the U.S. and receive new work authorization, employers will be faced with the following common scenario.

An employee has recently legalized their status and acquired an employment authorization document (work permit) from U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS).  She then goes to the Social Security Administration and obtains a new social security number.  Continue Reading

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