In March, the Dennis J. Block Center for International Business Law (IBL) hosted an IBL Breakfast Roundtable at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. IBL Fellows, faculty, alumni, and practitioners enjoyed an “inside” perspective on banking supervision and economic sanctions from Thomas C. Baxter, General Counsel and Executive Vice President of the Federal Reserve Bank.
Baxter joined the Federal Reserve Bank in 1980 and immediately found himself in the midst of the Iranian hostage crisis, in which 52 Americans were held hostage for 444 days by a group of students and militants who took over the American Embassy in support of the Iranian Revolution. The United States responded by imposing economic sanctions and freezing Iranian assets in the U.S. Over the course of the hostage crisis nearly $8 billion in Iranian assets were held in the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
Baxter spoke of the similarity of world events thirty years later, and in particular how timely it was to speak on the topic of sanctions. Baxter’s talk took place just as the United States was re-imposing economic sanctions on Libya and the United Nations was imposing its own sanctions and assessing the legal implications with respect to these actions. In his talk, Baxter addressed the legal basis for economic sanctions and how they have been effective in achieving U.S. policy goals. He also shared his views on the use of bank supervisory powers to enforce compliance with economic sanctions.
The IBL Center’s mission is to contribute to the exploration of timely issues of interest to business organizations, regulators, policy makers, practitioners, jurists, scholars, and future lawyers in this important field. IBL Breakfast Roundtables enrich the educational experience for fellows by exposing them to prominent leaders in the field of international business law and introducing them to alumni practicing in this area as well.