US Commerce’s BIS Adjusts Its AntiBoycott Rules Enforcement

The Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS), a division within the US Department of Commerce, announced it is updating its policy regarding enforcement of antiboycott rules. Effective 7 October 2022, the amendment clarifies the categories of antiboycott violations and their corresponding penalties in an attempt to ensure appropriate action is taken based on the seriousness of a violation.

Based on summaries contained in a BIS release, the policy update involves four adjustments. Enhanced Penalties: At the three category levels of violations, penalty amounts will be at the maximum as a starting point (Category A), enhanced (Category B), and increased (Category C). Reprioritized Violation Categories: BIS has revised its Antiboycott Penalty Guidance to recategorize certain antiboycott violations to reflect its current view of the relative seriousness of violations.

Admissions of Misconduct: The Office of Antiboycott Compliance (OAC) will now require those who enter into settlement agreements for antiboycott violations to admit to a statement of facts outlining their conduct as part of the settlement agreement. Renewed Focus on Foreign Subsidiaries of US Companies: Going forward, BIS will be more aggressive in exploring ways to deter non-US parties from issuing or making boycott requests of US persons.

Of note, the rule moves implementing letters of credit violations from Category A – the most serious violations grouping – to Category B.

According to BIS, the Arab League boycott of Israel is the principal unsanctioned foreign boycott that US persons must be concerned with today. The antiboycott provisions, however, apply to all unsanctioned foreign boycotts.

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