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Conducting Effective Internal Investigations Involving U.S. Export and Sanctions Violations

Evaluating Key Issues Including: Whether to Investigate, How to Determine the Appropriate Scope, How to Manage the Privilege Issues, Handling Parallel Investigations, and More

Recording of a 90-minute CLE video webinar with Q&A

This program is included with the Strafford CLE Pass. Click for more information.
This program is included with the Strafford All-Access Pass. Click for more information.

Conducted on Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Recorded event now available

or call 1-800-926-7926

This CLE course will guide counsel on the key issues to manage when conducting effective internal investigations related to export and sanctions violations under U.S. laws and regulations. The panel will examine the primary factors to consider when determining whether, when, and how to conduct an investigation. Limiting a scattered investigatory approach, avoiding other similar pitfalls, and identifying the areas where the most efficiencies can be gained when assessing the manner in which to conduct the investigation will be reviewed.


When confronted with potential export violations, having a process in place to identify where to start and how to develop a plan to conduct the review is essential. Addressing the foundational issues of who, what, where, why, when, and how will help structure the review and, at the same time, provide the necessary information required to inform management and the board, and engage with the relevant U.S. government agencies responsible for export compliance and enforcement. In addition to these foundational issues, internal investigations must also take into consideration foreign laws that may directly impact the course of the investigation. These include foreign data protection laws and, increasingly, foreign laws that block U.S. laws such as the EU Blocking Statute and China’s Anti-Foreign Sanctions Law.

When undertaking an internal investigation, companies and their counsel would benefit from a thorough analysis of the legal and practical issues, including whether to conduct the investigation, how to conduct it in a cost-effective manner, how to manage privilege and foreign data protection issues, confidentiality concerns, and conflicts of law (e.g., China’s Anti-Foreign Sanctions Law, among others).

With increasing regulatory scrutiny, including by foreign data regulators, counsel must carefully weigh whether to conduct an internal investigation into suspected or alleged violations and how to conduct the investigation in the most effective manner, especially where the data may be located outside the United States.

Listen as our authoritative panel of international trade attorneys examines the factors to consider in determining whether and how to conduct an internal investigation for export violations. The panel will review the key elements and discuss the potential pitfalls that may occur along the way, including the perils of parallel investigations. The panel will offer guidance to avoid pitfalls and conduct an effective investigation.



  1. Internal investigations for export violations
    1. Discovery of an alleged violation
    2. Considerations for determining whether to conduct an internal investigation
    3. Selecting who will conduct the investigation
    4. Scope
  2. Potential pitfalls
    1. Parallel investigations
    2. Failure to address privacy and consent issues
    3. Waiver of privilege
  3. Avoiding pitfalls
    1. Preserving attorney-client privilege
    2. Managing interviews to balance privacy and consent concerns
    3. Data protection
  4. Post-investigation strategies
    1. Remedial action
    2. Minimizing the risk of further government investigation


The panel will review these and other key questions:

  • What are the key considerations for counsel conducting internal investigations?
  • What can counsel do to protect privileges and confidential information during an internal investigation?
  • What steps can companies take to minimize the risk of a government investigation or violating foreign laws?


Cinelli, Giovanna
Giovanna M. Cinelli

Morgan, Lewis & Bockius

Ms. Cinelli is the leader of the firm’s international trade and national security practice. As a practitioner for...  |  Read More

Burney, Ali
Ali Burney


Mr. Burney's practice focuses on representing U.S. and non-U.S. clients in the Asia-Pacific region on matters...  |  Read More

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