Economic Sanctions and National Security

Davis Polk brings unique experience to high-profile matters involving transactional and international trade issues faced by companies engaged or investing in international business.  

As U.S. national and economic security concerns increase, they affect a wider variety of our clients’ commercial, corporate and investment transactions, including exports, funds transfers, securities issuance and underwriting, international trade, insurance, and inbound and outbound direct-investment transactions. We are leaders in helping clients with: reviews by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (“CFIUS”) of deals affecting U.S. national security or the protection of critical infrastructure; and compliance of U.S. economic sanctions and anti-money laundering laws and regulations, including the Bank Secrecy Act and USA PATRIOT Act, the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (“FCPA”) and the Exon-Florio statute (as amended by the Foreign Investment and National Security Act of 2007).

Our lawyers have served in senior positions in the White House, the Departments of Justice and Treasury, including the Office of Foreign Assets Control (“OFAC”) and the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (“FinCEN”), the FBI and CIA, and the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, as well as in trade-related positions at the State Department. 

Economic Sanctions

We are well-known for representing global financial institutions and corporations in high-stakes OFAC sanctions investigations and compliance advisory matters, as well as in parallel civil and criminal enforcement proceedings.

We counsel clients on the intricacies of Russian, Ukrainian and Syrian sanctions, on the rapidly developing openness to Cuba and on emerging frictions between the U.S. and EU over implementation of the Iran nuclear energy agreement.

Our seasoned regulatory lawyers and litigators bring decades of experience to matters including:

  • assisting domestic and foreign clients in all business fields with establishing compliance programs
  • planning and conducting transactional due diligence
  • interacting with OFAC on licensing, compliance and enforcement issues
  • handling litigation related to sanctions and AML issues
  • assisting foreign clients in understanding OFAC compliance requirements when they enter the U.S. market or prepare for capital markets transactions involving U.S. investors, underwriters or legal advisers
  • assisting foreign and domestic clients in responding to comments from the SEC and in preparing required disclosures
  • analyzing and updating clients on new sanctions programs and developments, including the frequent changes to existing U.S. sanctions programs and designations

CFIUS and Foreign Investment Reviews

We have extensive experience advising clients – including sovereign wealth funds, state-owned enterprises, hedge funds, private equity funds and multigovernment-owned entities – on national security issues in connection with proposed U.S. acquisitions or investments. 

Our lawyers regularly provide representation in CFIUS’s review of proposed business combinations potentially affecting national security, including many of the most prominent transactions,  posing exceptionally complex and politically challenging issues CFIUS faces. Many of these transactions have involved parties holding or seeking clearances to perform work classified for reasons of U.S. national security, which have required parallel reviews by other U.S. agencies. A number of these transactions have been subject to parallel review by the Defense Security Service (DSS) or the interagency group known as “Team Telecom.” 



FinReg is a Davis Polk blog that offers updates and insights on financial regulation topics.

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Chambers USA – International Trade

  • “They are leaders in the area of economic sanctions: exceptionally knowledgeable on the topic and very commercially sound.” 
  • Davis Polk is “[e]xtremely knowledgeable and very commercial in understanding what we do." "They are often the go-to firm for analysis when there's a change in legislation or regulation – they do the most thoughtful and complete analyses of issue-spotting.”