The International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA) is a regulation pact which grants executive authority over emergencies during peace-time. The IEEPA permits the president to deal with unusual and extraordinary threats to national security by reforming the economic policies of the United States. The IEEPA is the foundational authority for much of the US sanctions regime administered and regulated by OFAC, as well as export control regulations administered by the Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Securities (BIS).

The continued use of IEEPA to expand presidential authority and sanctions is a reoccurring theme in US sanctions policy. IEEPA is the foundational law that permits this.

What Authorities Does the President Have Under the IEEPA?

The IEEPA grants the president broad powers to investigate, regulate, or block economic activities involving foreign entities. The Act applies to nearly any transaction involving foreign nationals, governments, or businesses that falls under United States jurisdiction. This includes importing or exporting currencies and securities. As long as the President declares a national emergency by way of an executive order, then sufficient executive authority has been provided to pass and administer sanctions regulations.

Penalties for Violating Sanctions Under the IEEPA

Violating sanctions issued under the IEEPA carries steep civil and criminal implications. Section 1705 of IEEPA provides that it is unlawful for a person to violate, attempt to violate, conspire to violate, or cause a violation of any license, order, regulation, or prohibition issued under this Chapter. Section 1705C provides that a person who willfully commits, attempts to commit, conspires to commit, or aids or abets in the commission of an unlawful act described in subsection A shall be fined not more than $1,000,000, be imprisoned for not more than 20 years, or both.

Additionally, 50 USC §1705 Title X provides that a civil penalty may be imposed on any person who commits an unlawful act defined in subsection A in an amount not to exceed the greater of $250,000 or twice the amount of the prohibited transaction. This penalty applies per-violation, so the total fine can be steep.

How an OFAC Sanctions Attorney Could Help

The way an OFAC sanctions attorney could help depend on the exact sanctions regulation in question. Typically, the International Emergency Economic Powers Act is not used directly to block funds. Instead, IEEPA provides the underlying authority with which more specific sanctions regulations are implemented or codified. Identifying the applicable regulation and understanding the underlying reason for the use of that regulation is vital for an OFAC sanctions attorney. An OFAC lawyer could help with drafting, reviewing and admitting an unblocking application case to OFAC.