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Clifford Chance

Clifford Chance
Sanctions and Export Control Risk<br />

Sanctions and Export Control Risk

A priority focus for your board

Sanctions and export control risk has risen sharply, due to complex and rapid regulatory shifts, adopted with little notice and lead time.

There is now an established history of companies forced to pay significant criminal and civil fines to multiple enforcement agencies for miscalculating the risk of strategic business decisions. A failure to recognise the risk can have serious and far-reaching implications for the reputation of a business – and for members of the board individually.

Clifford Chance will help you stay on top of this ever-changing legal landscape, enabling you to move your business forward in line with your strategic objectives. We are working with some of the world’s leading companies in relation to their sanctions and export control strategies.

Be clear on sanctions and export control risk

5 questions to ask yourself

How will new sanctions and export control laws impact us?

Changes to sanctions and export control laws and regulations have never before come so fast and so furious with little, if any, prior warning or consultation. Any cross-border business needs to find nimble solutions to react and adapt to multiple and conflicting legal frameworks. Are you confident that changes to sanctions and export control relevant to your business will be anticipated, and addressed quickly enough so that necessary changes can be implemented effectively throughout your organisation?

Do our compliance systems address the new, emerging sanctions risks?

Sanctions and export control compliance remains a moving target. Does your business have compliance systems that meet existing challenges and will easily adapt to changes in sanctions and export controls, to identify and mitigate new risks as they emerge? Is your board receiving the information it needs to take informed decisions about the risks to the business?

Are sanctions given due prominence in our M&A due diligence?

When buying any business, sanctions and export control due diligence must be high on the list of considerations. Will the target’s current or historical business activities lead to future enforcement activity – with possible legal, financial and reputational costs for your business? Asking the right questions – and understanding the responses – will enable appropriate contractual protections to be sought from the vendor.

Are we confident that our employees will recognise a sanctions issue?

Employees are on the front line for spotting potential sanctions and export control issues – and must react promptly and appropriately if an issue is identified. Employee training on the "red flags" relevant to your business is crucial.

How will we respond to a suspected sanctions or export control violation?

Identification of a suspected violation inevitably requires swift action – but also strategic thought. Will the steps taken to investigate the suspected violation stand up to scrutiny if a formal investigation follows? If a violation is identified, there may be advantages in proactively engaging with enforcement agencies. However, the process of communication with any government authority needs careful management.

Why Clifford Chance

While the political, diplomatic and security responses to world events continue as headline news, the legal implications of complex sanctions programmes relating to Russia, Iran and North Korea must be considered in the context of your business activities across the globe. These sanctions impact direct business with those countries, as well as incidental activities and investments. We will work with you to assess the sanctions and export control risks relevant to your business, and develop strategies to mitigate those risks.

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Russia and sanctions

Following Russia's invasion of Ukraine, a broad range of sanctions and export controls have been imposed across numerous jurisdictions.

Our global team continues to analyse the developments and the impact they will have on businesses.

View the latest

Meet our Sanctions and Export Control Risk team

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Lei Shi

Lei Shi

Managing Partner, Mainland China



Lei Shi's practice focuses on China-related dispute resolution matters, including international arbitration, regulatory compliance and investigation, and commercial litigation.

In the arbitration area, Lei has over 12 years of experiences as counsel in arbitration under HKIAC, ICC, SIAC, CIETAC, LCIA, SCC, AAA and UNCITRAL Rules in relation to M&A, private equity, banking, technology, real property and other commercial disputes.

George Kleinfeld

George Kleinfeld

Washington D.C.



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George Kleinfeld has over thirty years of experience in the fields of international economic regulation and foreign trade controls.

He advises leading financial institutions, industrial enterprises, trading companies and global investors on US sanctions issues and compliance with US sanctions laws and regulations. He has participated in a wide range of US sanctions investigations and enforcement actions as well as designing compliance programs and providing compliance training and risk analyses for multinational corporations and financial institutions in Europe, the Middle East, Australia, Asia and the Americas.

Michael Lyons

Michael Lyons




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Michael Lyons provides specialist advice on contentious regulatory matters including investigations and enforcement, banking and financial services litigation/disputes and compliance advice.

Michael's particular focus is on financial crime compliance issues, including economic and trade sanctions, anti-money laundering and anti-bribery/corruption. He has been actively involved in these areas providing advice to a broad range of financial institutions as well as compliance officers and other approved persons.

Heiner Hugger

Heiner Hugger




Heiner Hugger advises on investigations, legal proceedings, compliance and fraud-prevention measures and all other issues in connection with criminal, regulatory or other penalties.

Heiner has particular experience in defending against investigations against companies and their staff members, advising on internal investigations and on the prosecution of offences committed to the detriment of companies, as well as in advising companies on compliance and fraud-prevention measures.

Heiner is a member of our global risk leadership team.