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On 10 December 2021, at the Summit for Democracy, the US, Australia, Denmark, and Norway, released a Joint Statement announcing an Export Controls and Human Rights Initiative to curb the misuse of technologies by certain governments. The initiative aims to combat digital authoritarianism in countries where software and advanced surveillance technologies have been used to hack the communications of political opponents and journalists, shape public opinion, and censor information the government deems threatening.

Please join us for a weekly series, hosted by Baker McKenzie’s North America Government Enforcement partners Tom Firestone and Jerome Tomas. This week’s discussion will cover the following: Sentencing in Elizabeth Holmes case; SEC Pays Out Whistleblower Bounty for Overseas Tip; A Discussion of the Geographic Sources of Whistleblower Tips

On December 16, 2021, the US Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (“OFAC”) designated eight Chinese tech companies to the Non-SDN Chinese Military-Industrial Complex Companies (“NS-CMIC”) list pursuant to Executive Order 13959, as amended by Executive Order 14032, for their alleged involvement in supporting surveillance of ethnic and religious minorities in Xinjiang, China. On the next day, the US Commerce Department’s Bureau of Industry and Security (“BIS”) also added 37 new parties to the BIS Entity List, including 25 Chinese companies for their alleged involvement in efforts to develop and use biotechnology and other technologies for military application and human rights abuses. These sanctions are part of an increase in US Government efforts to prevent alleged human rights abuses.

In December 2021, the US Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (“OFAC”) issued four General Licenses (“GLs”) (GLs 16, 17, 18, and 19), published seven new Frequently Asked Questions (“FAQs”) (FAQs 949, 950, 951, 952, 953, 954, and 955), and amended three FAQs (FAQs 929, 930, and 931), which address primarily authorized humanitarian activities related to Afghanistan OFAC also issued a Fact Sheet titled “Provision of Humanitarian Assistance to Afghanistan and Support for the Afghan People” to provide further guidance on the scope of US sanctions and authorized humanitarian activities in relation to Afghanistan. Key points are summarized below.

The compromise version of the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act (HR 6256) was recently passed by both chambers of Congress, and the legislation is now cleared for President Biden’s signature. It is expected that President Biden will sign the legislation into law soon. With strong bipartisan support, earlier versions of this legislation had passed the US House and Senate in the preceding months, and lawmakers reached an agreement that merged versions from each chamber.

This week’s discussion will cover the following: 6 January Investigation Update; White House Anti-Corruption Strategy; New OFAC Anti-Corruption Sanctions; DOJ Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on FARA; and ESG Update: Office of Comptroller of the Currency’s National Risk Committee Identifies Climate Change Initiative in Semiannual Risk Perspective report