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Mark Plotkin

Mark Plotkin — broadly recognized as one of the nation’s preeminent regulatory advocates — represents clients before the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) and other U.S. government agencies. He delivers outstanding results for global clients across industries. Mark’s practice includes having negotiated some of the most challenging compliance and security agreements ever concluded with the U.S. government – agreements that in many instances now are the template for the relevant industries.

Clients refer to him as "the dean of the CFIUS Bar" with an "unmatched history, experience and network" (Chambers USA). The American Lawyer has twice honored Mark as "Dealmaker of the Year"— in 2016 for his role securing CFIUS clearance for GlobalFoundries’ multibillion dollar acquisition of IBM’s semiconductor unit, and again in 2019 for his team's successful and novel efforts in the CFIUS process to defend Qualcomm from a hostile takeover attempt by Broadcom.

Chambers Global says “Plotkin is widely regarded as one of the top national security attorneys in the USA and has extensive experience in advising industry-leading names before the CFIUS panel." He also is nationally ranked for his expertise in both financial services regulation and data privacy.

Mark received his bachelor of arts degree in history, summa cum laude and with departmental honors, from Yale College, where he was elected to Phi Beta Kappa. He received his law degree with honors from Harvard Law School, where he was Comments Editor of the Journal on Legislation. Mark previously taught American government at Harvard College. He is an adjunct professor of law at Georgetown University Law Center, where he teaches a seminar on national security law; he also lectures on national security law at Yale Law School and other venues. He is a former Governor of the Yale Alumni Association, a member of the American Law Institute, and a life member of the Council on Foreign Relations.

Mark is the co-author of numerous articles and book chapters on legal topics as well co-editor of Regulation of Foreign Banks & Affiliates in the United States (Sixth Edition) and editor-in-chief of E-Commerce Law & Business. He has testified before Congress, the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission, and the Uniform Law Commission.

May 23, 2023, Covington Alert

The U.S. Department of the Treasury (“Treasury”), in its capacity as chair of the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (“CFIUS” or the “Committee”), recently posted two new frequently asked questions (“FAQs”) to CFIUS’s website that have important implications for parties planning transactions subject to the Committee’s jurisdiction.

First, CFIUS confirmed its recent practice of requiring detailed information on all direct or indirect foreign ownership involved in a transaction, including disclosure of all limited partners (or “LPs”) of an investment fund, without regard to any pre-existing agreements between the fund sponsor and investor regarding disclosure.

Second, CFIUS offered guidance regarding the meaning of “completion date” for purposes of when a mandatory filing must be submitted for a multi-stage transaction. The guidance could have broad implications, especially for some venture financing transactions, as it introduces uncertainty regarding the ability of investors to use a staged transaction to acquire an initial, passive equity interest prior to submitting a mandatory CFIUS filing with respect to a subsequent acquisition of control or certain non-passive rights. The new guidance seems at odds with language that appears in the preamble to the regulations implementing the Foreign Investment Risk Review Modernization Act of 2018 (“FIRRMA”), and the practice of transaction parties for the last several years. CFIUS did not provide any explanation for this change, which raises questions as to why the Committee has issued the guidance now.

Each of these developments is discussed in more detail below.

1. CFIUS may require detailed information regarding all foreign persons involved directly or indirectly in a transaction, including limited partners in an investment fund.

Treasury published the following FAQ on May 11:

Does CFIUS require information on all foreign persons, such as limited partners in an investment fund, that would hold an interest in a U.S. business, whether directly or indirectly, as part of the transaction?Continue Reading CFIUS Issues Guidance On Disclosure of Information About Limited Partner Investors and Application of Mandatory Filing Rules to Multi-stage Transactions

On the heels of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, pandemic-induced supply chain disruptions, and U.S.-China tensions over Taiwan, 2022 accelerated a sweeping effort within the U.S. government to make national security considerations—especially with respect to China—a key feature of new and existing regulatory processes. This trend toward broader national security regulation, designed to help maintain U.S. strategic advantage, has support from both Republicans and Democrats, including from the Biden Administration. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan’s remarks in September 2022 capture the tone shift in Washington: “…[W]e have to revisit the longstanding premise of maintaining ‘relative’ advantages over competitors in certain key technologies…That is not the strategic environment we are in today…[w]e must maintain as large of a lead as possible.”

This environment produced important legislative and regulatory developments in 2022, including the CHIPS and Science Act (Covington alert), first-ever Enforcement and Penalty Guidelines promulgated by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (“CFIUS” or the “Committee”) (Covington alert), President Biden’s Executive Order on CFIUS (Covington alert), new restrictions under U.S. export control authorities targeting China (Covington alert), and proposals for a new regime to review outbound investments by U.S. businesses (Covington alert). The common thread among these developments is the U.S. government’s continuing appetite to use both existing and new regulatory authorities to address identified national security risks, especially where perceived risks relate to China.

With a Republican majority in the U.S. House of Representatives riding the tailwinds of this bipartisan consensus, 2023 is looking like a pivotal moment for national security regulation—expanding beyond the use of traditional authorities such as trade controls and CFIUS, into additional regulatory domains touching upon data, communications, antitrust, and possibly more. In parallel, the U.S. focus on national security continues to gain purchase abroad, with foreign direct investment (“FDI”) regimes maturing in tandem with CFIUS, and outbound investment screening gaining traction, for example, in the European Union (“EU”). It is crucial for businesses to be aware of these developments and to approach U.S. regulatory processes with a sensitivity towards the shifting national security undercurrents described in greater detail below.Continue Reading Will 2023 Be an Inflection Point in National Security Regulation?

There have been several recent developments in international efforts to combat trade in goods made with forced labor, with important implications for responsible sourcing and global trade compliance programs.

On September 14, 2022, the European Commission (“Commission”) published a proposal to ban products made with forced labor from the EU market. The proposal notably goes beyond banning the importation of such products and would also create a ban on the export of products produced with forced labor and require their withdrawal from the EU market.

Meanwhile, enforcement by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (“CBP”) of the U.S. forced labor import prohibition has continued to intensify, including under the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act (“UFLPA”). In early August 2022, CBP clarified the process for updating the UFLPA Entity List. In addition, CBP recently announced that it intends to integrate forced labor compliance requirements into the Customs Trade Partnership Against Terrorism (“CTPAT”) “trusted trader” program.

We discuss these developments and their implications below.

EU Forced Labor Product Ban

The European Commission has proposed a Regulation prohibiting products made with forced labor from being imported to, exported from, or sold in the EU, following an announcement by Commission President Ursula von der Leyen during her State of the Union address in September 2021.

The Commission’s proposal is the first step in the EU’s formal legislative process. The Regulation will now have to be agreed by the European Parliament and Council to become law, following which there will be an agreed delay—the Commission has proposed two years—before it applies in EU Member States. As it usually takes at least 12 months, and often closer to 18 months, for the European Parliament and Council to agree on a legislative text after a proposal by the Commission is published, it is unlikely that the Regulation will be adopted before the end of 2023, and it is therefore unlikely to become applicable earlier than late 2025.Continue Reading Breaking Developments in Forced Labor Trade Enforcement—the EU’s Proposed Forced Labor Product Ban and Recent Developments in U.S. Customs Enforcement