Houston Companies Face Increased Scrutiny Over Export Violations

Washington is taking a tough line with Houston companies that trade with countries under U.S. sanctions. That's a change from previous years.

The Commerce Department keeps a list of goods that are not to be exported to certain countries under any circumstances. Selling oil and gas drilling equipment to Iran, for example, is verboten.

During his eleven-plus years with the Justice Department, Jeffrey Vaden was responsible for dealing with such export control violations at the Port of Houston.

“For many years, you would have a company or individual that would run afoul of the law that, assuming they cooperated and it wasn’t something too egregious, it could be handled administratively.”  

Vaden joined Bracewell & Giuliani last year, defending companies he once would have prosecuted. These days, he says, they need defending.

“Now, in a matter of deterrence, they’re much more likely to pursue a criminal case.”

Vaden says Houston prosecutors enjoy better coordination with federal law enforcement than in the past. That’s making it much tougher for local companies to get away with shipping violations.

Bio photo of Andrew Schneider

Andrew Schneider

Business Reporter

Andrew Schneider joined KUHF in January 2011, after more than a decade as a print reporter for The Kiplinger Letter...