Federal compliance can be a huge headache for US companies – especially small businesses, which may not have the budget to retain a law firm. It’s difficult to understand the different regulations and how they apply if you don’t have a prior background in law. On top of that, there are multiple federal agencies that govern border issues. You might be dealing with four different agencies when discussing your foreign transactions.
Even if you aren’t aware of the compliance regulations, you can still be subject to massive fines if you fail to adhere to them. The consequences can happen quickly and may be enough to wreck your entire business. Some may seem like small inconveniences, such as your company’s shipments being denied when they reach the port. But others, like criminal investigations into the company’s executives, can have life-ruining complications.
A law firm that specializes in federal compliance is the best place to turn. Many firms can help with compliance issues for both large corporations and small businesses. Regardless of your industry or experience, a compliance attorney can explain what you need to do to be up to code.
If you are considering expanding your existing business over international borders, it’s best to contact a compliance team before you do so. Going into your business venture with procedures already drafted will make your life so much easier.
How to Address the Export Compliance Needs of Your Company
When federal export control is involved, it’s vital that you engage in comprehensive compliance. That means having a strong enough understanding of the federal guidelines that you can point to your business procedures. With the average medium-sized company, the law firm will need to address factors including:
- Filing compliance for automated export systems
- Prior disclosures and compliance with CBP, OFAC, and BIS agencies
- Classifications of commodities
- Compliance regarding trade regulations, exemptions, and exceptions
- FCPA compliance and ECCN classifications
- ITAR registrations, classifications, and any notifications of changes
The law firm will also need to do research on the third parties you contract with for your business. Whoever you do business with will need to be unimpeachable as far as their ties to other entities go. It’s vital that you not ship to or receive supplies from a potential security threat.
Defenses When Facing an Audit
If a company is already facing an audit, and they’re likely to be found non-compliant with several regulations, the executives are probably desperate to avoid being charged. A law firm can provide a strong defense by assessing the situation and creating plans to fix the errors.
The first step is for an internal audit to be completed. This is when the law firm goes through all of your information and compiles a list of your risks. They will be able to explain how serious your situation is and how you may be able to salvage it.
The second step is to intervene in the existing investigation or audit. As your legal representatives, the attorneys will control the process, correct misinformation, and move toward a favorable resolution by working with the investigators.
It’s common for investigations to be resolved without needing formal court proceedings. This is especially true of situations in which the non-compliance was a harmless mistake. The attorneys can work with the federal agencies to look for an informal solution. They can also prioritize the avoidance of any civil, criminal, or administrative charges.
Most cases will be resolved by this point. But should it become necessary, a good law firm can provide a defense for your company at trial. They can also represent you in administrative hearings and other proceedings.