The FDA has taken action to stop the unlawful importation of a drug called xylazine by announcing on February 28 that they have issued an Import Alert for drug products or ingredients that have xylazine active products within them. Xylazine is a drug used in the veterinary field and is contained in drugs that sedate animals such as horses and deer (animal tranquilizers). It has increasingly been found within drugs in the illegal drug trade and has been linked to overdose deaths all over the country including California and Pennsylvania. The FDA’s action is part of its initiative to protect public health and stop the presence of xylazine in the nation’s illicit drugs.
The US Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) has sanctioned nine entities involved in the production, sale, and shipment of Iranian petrochemicals and petroleum to buyers in Asia, in violation of US sanctions. Six Iran-based petrochemical manufacturers and three firms in Malaysia and Singapore have been targeted for facilitating the sale and shipment of petroleum and petrochemicals on behalf of Triliance Petrochemical Co. Ltd., which OFAC previously designated for facilitating the sale of Iranian petroleum products. The sanctions are aimed at targeting Tehran’s sources of illicit revenue, and all property and interests in property of the targeted entities must be blocked and reported to OFAC.
In an action meant to incentive companies to self-report their wrongdoings, the Justice Department (DOJ), has announced big changes to its Corporate Enforcement Policy (CEP). The Department of Justice has long been fighting against corporate criminality in its pursuit to maintain the integrity of the financial market. On January 17, Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Polite, Jr., announced revisions to the Criminal Division’s Corporate Enforcement Policy. Some of the revisions include up to a 75 percent reduction in fines for companies that voluntarily report their wrongdoings and fully cooperate with investigations and up to a 50 percent reduction for companies that fully cooperate with investigations even if they do not voluntarily disclose the crime. These incentives further soften the aggressive stance that the Biden administration originally took against Corporate America in 2021.
In an action to keep company executives in check, the Justice Department (DOJ), created a policy where executives and compliance chiefs sign and personally attest to the effectiveness of their compliance programs. The individuals would therefore be held personally liable for their roles in the company’s wrongdoing. The DOJ and Google had a pending dispute, which was due to Google’s non-compliance with assisting authorities in an investigation. The DOJ and Google reached an agreement, with a stipulation attached, resolving the dispute over Google’s loss of data responsive to a 2016 search warrant. In the stipulation, Google has said that it has spent over 90 million dollars on additional systems and resources to improve its compliance programs, including an agreement to allow an Independent Compliance Professional to serve as a third party to monitor that Google is fulfilling its compliance legal obligations. This policy, as already seen in the settlement with Google, is forcing compliance to become a top-tier concern for big companies or face serious consequences.
China has long persecuted individuals in their Xinjiang region, mostly Uyghurs and Turkic Muslims. Specifically, the Chinese government has a long history of forcing Uyghurs and Turkic Muslims to do manual labor. These human rights violations prompted President Biden to sign the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act (UFLPA) into law late last year. On June 21, 2022, the UFLPA went into effect, blocking the importation of goods made from forced labor in the Xinjiang region of China. The law has four main functions. It employs both an enforcement strategy and a diplomatic strategy, it applies a presumption that all goods from the Xinjiang region are barred, and it has required sanctions. Although the United States had previously restricted imports from the Xinjiang region under the Trump administration, this is the furthest step forward the US government has taken to eliminate imports from the region all together.
In June of this year, a new California bill, which allows social media companies to be sued by state government attorneys for having features that contribute to the addiction of children to their apps, cleared the state Senate. The bill was originally brought to California’s state assembly as one that would permit parents to sue social media giants for up to $25,000 per violation but was later amended after lobbying from business and tech-industry groups. The worry that social media is able to exploit children through ads, notifications, and other features in the design that are promoting addiction has amplified since the premiere of 2020 documentary, “The Social Dilemma.” Since then, the warning that regulation was looming has quickly turned into actual movement towards regulating the actions of social media companies. The bill has since failed, a disappointing end to an initiative that could have made a real change towards keeping social media giants in check.