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2 min read

Epsilon Electronics Loses Lawsuit over Violation of Economic Sanctions


The Department of the Treasury and OFAC initiated administrative proceedings against Epsilon Electronics, alleging that the company had violated ITAR Compliance by exporting goods to Iran. The case was initially heard by an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ), who carefully reviewed the evidence presented by both parties. Upon considering the testimony and additional evidence, the ALJ issued an initial decision, imposing a civil monetary penalty on Epsilon Electronics.

Appellate law and the ALJ's decision are vital components of the legal system, ensuring fairness and providing recourse for parties dissatisfied with the initial outcome of administrative proceedings. By understanding the legal framework, the appeals process, and the potential for further judicial review, individuals and corporations can navigate the intricate path of administrative law to protect their rights and seek justice.

Appeal to the ALJ's Decision:

Unsatisfied with the ALJ's ruling, Epsilon Electronics decided to exercise its right to appeal the decision. The appeal was made to the Appeals Council, the appellate authority in administrative proceedings. The Appeals Council reviews the ALJ's decision and may affirm, modify, or reverse it based on the evidence and arguments presented.

During the appeal process, Epsilon Electronics had the opportunity to present additional evidence and arguments to support its case. The company made compelling arguments, highlighting potential errors in the ALJ's decision and disputing the sufficiency of the evidence against them.

The Appeals Council, considering the written briefs and oral arguments, reevaluated the case and rendered a final decision. In this particular instance, the Appeals Council affirmed the ALJ's decision, concurring with their finding that Epsilon Electronics had indeed violated the Regulations.

Further Judicial Review:

Although the Appeals Council's decision marks the conclusion of the administrative phase, Epsilon Electronics still retains the option of seeking judicial review in a federal district court. This additional step allows the company to challenge the administrative decision before a federal judge.

When seeking such judicial review, Epsilon Electronics would need to demonstrate that the ALJ and Appeals Council erred in their interpretation of the law or in their factual findings. They may also argue that their due process rights were violated during the administrative proceedings.

Investigation and Findings:

OFAC initiated an investigation into Epsilon Electronics after learning that the company had received wire transfers from the Commercial Bank of Dubai, which appeared to be on behalf of Asra International Corporation. The investigation revealed that Epsilon Electronics had made 41 sales to Asra International between 2008 and 2012, of which five transactions were considered severe violations since they occurred after OFAC had issued a cautionary letter to Epsilon Electronics.

The Court's Review:

The court delved into the standard of review for cases seeking a judicial review of agency action under the Administrative Procedure Act (APA). It elucidated that summary judgment is an appropriate mechanism when deciding whether an agency's action is supported by the administrative record and consistent with the APA standard of review. In this case, the court assessed whether the evidence in the administrative record justified OFAC's decision.

Court's Analysis and Verdict:

The court, adopting an "extremely deferential" approach, reviewed OFAC's determinations considering national security, foreign policy, and administrative law implications. It analyzed the circumstances surrounding the alleged violations and determined that OFAC's conclusion that Epsilon Electronics had violated economic sanctions against Iran was well-founded. Despite the plaintiff's assertions, the court found ample evidence to dismiss the arguments challenging OFAC's determinations.

The court also acknowledged OFAC's guidelines for differentiating between "egregious" and "non egregious" violations. Notably, the plaintiff contended that the imposed penalties were excessively severe, but the court found that OFAC had adhered to its enforcement guidelines and that the agency's interpretation of its own regulations deserved judicial deference.

Furthermore, the court rejected the plaintiff's claims related to due process and procedural deficiencies, asserting that the plaintiff had ample notice and opportunity to respond throughout the proceedings. The court concluded that the civil penalty, amounting to $4,073,000, was well within the appropriate range given the gravity and duration of the violations.


In the face of mounting evidence, legal arguments, and a comprehensive review, the court ultimately upheld the civil monetary penalty against Epsilon Electronics for its violation of economic sanctions against Iran. The ruling serves as a reminder of the strict enforcement of international economic sanctions and the potentially severe consequences for violators.