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Adam M. Smith is a partner in the Washington, D.C. office of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher.  He is an experienced international lawyer with a focus on international trade compliance and white collar investigations, including with respect to federal and state economic sanctions enforcement, the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, embargoes, and export controls.

From 2010-2015 Mr. Smith served in the Obama Administration as the Senior Advisor to the Director of the U.S. Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) and as the Director for Multilateral Affairs on the National Security Council.  At OFAC he played a primary role in all aspects of the agency's work, including briefing Congressional and private sector leadership on sanctions matters, shaping new Executive Orders, regulations, and policy guidance for both strengthening sanctions (Russia and Syria) and easing measures (Burma and Cuba), and advising on enforcement actions following sanctions violations. 

Mr. Smith travelled extensively in Europe, the Middle East, Asia, Africa, and the Americas conducting outreach with governments and private sector actors on sanctions, risk, and compliance.  This outreach included meetings with senior leadership in several sectors including finance, logistics, insurance and reinsurance, energy, mining, technology, and private equity.

Mr. Smith frequently chaired the Treasury delegation to EU/G7 consultations regarding Russia sanctions and negotiated with EU institutions and member states to implement coordinated measures.  Additionally, Mr. Smith managed the development and implementation of the U.S. government's international outreach program on Congressionally-mandated Iran sanctions and helped develop proposed sanctions relief strategies as a part of the Iranian nuclear negotiations.

During Mr. Smith's tenure on the White House's National Security Council he advised the President on his multilateral agenda including with respect to international sanctions, coordinated inter-agency efforts to relieve U.S. economic restrictions on Burma, and developed strategies to counter corruption and illicit flows and to promote stolen asset recovery.

Representative engagements include:

  • Providing ongoing sanctions compliance advice to major Asian financial institutions, Fortune 500 manufacturers, and insurers.
  • Overhauling sanctions compliance oversight and processes at a major e-payments company.
  • Retained by a Fortune 100 manufacturer to conduct an internal FCPA investigation and provided sanctions advice in the context of a proposed deal.*
  • Engaged with several major energy firms about U.S. and global regulatory risks with respect to sanctions, corruption, and AML concerning proposed exploration and production in the Arctic, the Caspian, and Africa.*
  • Worked with the senior leadership of a major Sovereign Wealth Fund to identify and address regulatory challenges such as CFIUS, global investment opportunities, and to develop relationships on the Hill. *
  • Provided legal, regulatory, and media counsel to a state in the context of a significant cross-border investment dispute and resulting litigation before ICSID.*
  • Advised a multinational food company about the sanctions risks of proposed ventures, and worked with the firm to limit regulatory risks of resuming long-suspended operations in a challenging foreign jurisdiction.*
  • Hired by a senior African government minister to assist his state in examining the impact of its free trade agreements and to provide guidance to improve results.*
  • Retained by a G20 government to develop the regulatory structure for new free trade zones as a part of a multi-billion dollar effort to increase national competitiveness.*

Publications and Presentations

Mr. Smith has been a frequent presenter to industry and academic audiences on international economic and national security matters, and is the author of numerous articles and book chapters, and two legal textbooks, After Genocide – Bringing the Devil to Justice (Prometheus Books, 2009), and International Judicial Institutions – The Architecture of International Justice at Home and Abroad (Routledge, 2015). 

Recent speaking engagements include:   

  • Panelist, Security in the New Era of Targeted Sanctions, George Mason University / National Security Institute, Arlington, VA; November 13, 2017
  • Invited Address, “Sanctions and Export Controls under the Trump Administration,” Airbus Export Controls Annual Meeting, October 5, 2017, Toulouse, France
  • Invited Address, “Sanctions 101 in a New Era,” Innospec Annual Legal Meeting, October 4, 2017, Barcelona, Spain
  • Key Note Address, ACAMS – Singapore, “Primary and Secondary Sanctions,” October 19, 2017, Singapore.
  • Key Note Address, Association of Banks in Singapore, “Economic Sanctions in the Trump Era,” October 23, 2017, Singapore
  • Invited Address, “Implementing the Iran Deal,” International Institute for Strategic Studies, October 26, 2017, Seoul, South Korea
  • ABA Standing Committee on Law and National Security, Sanctions in the Trump Era, June 6, 2017, Washington, DC (Keynote Speaker)
  • Invited Speaker, US Trade Sanctions and the Trump Administration, Association of Women in International Trade, Washington, DC May 9, 2017
  • Invited Speaker, Transatlantic Policy and Sanctions on Russia, Center for a New American Security, Washington, DC, January 30, 2017
  • Co-chairperson of the 7th Annual New York Forum on Economic Sanctions, December 6-7, 2016
  • Iran - Sanctions Relief Status Check, Super Return Conference, Dubai, UAE, October 18, 2016
  • "US Economic Sanctions and Application to Canadian Industry," 2nd Canadian Forum on Economic Sanctions Compliance and Enforcement," Toronto, Canada (October 5, 2016)
  • Invited Speaker, PE141 - Terrorism Finance and Economic Sanctions, U.S. State Department, Foreign Service Institute, Washington, D.C. (March 14, 2016; July 6, 2016)
  • Invited Speaker, Iran Sanctions after the Relief, New Zealand-United States Business Council, Auckland, New Zealand (March 22, 2016)
  • Invited Speaker, Iran Sanctions and Australian Business – Opportunities and Risks, U.S.-Australia Chamber of Commerce, Sydney, Australia (March 28, 2016)
  • Invited Speaker, OFAC 101 – Workshop, United States Chamber of Commerce, Washington, D.C. (April 11, 2016)
  • Invited Speaker, Sanctions: The Past, Present, and Future of Economic Coercion, Working Group on the Future of U.S.-Russian Relations, Moscow Higher School of Economics, Moscow, Russia (May 16, 2016).
  • Invited Speaker, Navigating the New World of Sanctions: Private Equity and the Opportunities, Limits, and Risks in Iran, SuperReturn-US, Boston, MA (June 7, 2016)
  • Invited Speaker, International Banking and Iran, Association of Banks in Singapore, Financial Crime Seminar, Singapore (July 13-14, 2016).
  • Invited Speaker, Global Economic Sanctions – What do Companies In China Need to Know, EU and American Chambers of Commerce, Shanghai, China (July 19-20, 2016)
  • Invited Speaker, Myanmar Sanctions – Past, Present and Future, British-Myanmar Chamber of Commerce, Yangon , Myanmar (July 21, 2016)
  • Invited Speaker, Young Presidents Organization, Myanmar Sanctions in 2016, Yangon, Myanmar (July 22, 2016)
  • Panelist, Implementing the Iran Nuclear Deal: What's Next? – The United States' Sanctions Obligations, The Atlantic Council, Washington, DC (Dec 17, 2015)
  • Invited Speaker, What the Iran Nuclear Accord Means for Sanctions Today and Tomorrow, International Institute for Strategic Studies, Istanbul, Turkey (Nov 3, 2015)
  • Invited Speaker, Private Equity Investment in Iran: Sanctions, Risks, and Opportunities after the Nuclear Deal, Super Return Middle East, Dubai, UAE (Nov 9, 2015)
  • Panelist, Sanctions Compliance in a Dynamic Regulatory Environment, ABA/ABA Money Laundering Enforcement Conference, Washington, DC (Nov 16-17, 2015)
  • Panelist, "OFAC Cyber Sanctions – A New Weapons Against Cyber Threats, a New Challenge for Financial Institutions," ACFCS Cyber Financial Crime Summit, National Harbor, MD (Oct 6, 2015)
  • Guest lecturer, "The Rise of Smart Sanctions," The University of Toronto (Oct 5, 2015)
  • Moderator, Industry Panel on OFAC Sanctions in Emerging Payment Systems, Washington, DC (September 18, 2015)
  • Speaker, "Everything you Ever Wanted to Know about U.S. Sanctions on Russia but were Afraid to Ask," Georgetown School of Foreign Service, Washington, DC (April 14, 2015)
  • Speaker, "U.S. Economic Measures to Combat Russian Aggression in Ukraine," American Chamber of Commerce in Ukraine, Kiev, Ukraine (March 16, 2015)
  • Speaker, "U.S. Economic Pressure on Russia - A New World of Sanctions," Finnish Exporters Group, Helsinki, Finland (June 2, 2015); Romanian-American Chamber of Commerce, Bucharest, Romania (March 13, 2015); Association of Cyprus Banks, Nicosia, Cyprus (November 12, 2014 ); Association of Serbian Banks, Belgrade, Yugoslavia (November 6, 2014);
  • Speaker, "U.S. Sanctions on Iran," IISS Seminar with Government and Private Sector Leaders, Amman, Jordan (February 11-12, 2015)
  • Featured Panelist, "OFAC Compliance: New Sanctions and Corporate Risks," Lexis-Nexis Webinar (January 22, 2015)
  • Panelist, "Ukraine – Russia Sanctions Overview and Projections," OFAC Industry and Practitioners' Symposium, Washington, DC (October 7, 2014)
  • Speaker, "Presentation on U.S. and EU Sanctions on Russia," Hong Kong Association of Banks, Hong Kong (September 10, 2014)
  • Speaker, "U.S. Sanctions on Russia - Implications for Central Asia," Association of Bankers of the Republic of Kazakhstan, Almaty, Kazakhstan (September 5, 2014)
  • Speaker, "U.S. Sanctions on Russia - Implications and Challenges for the Regulated Community," British Bankers' Association, London, UK (September 4, 2014)
  • Speaker, "U.S. Sanctions - Basics, Power, and Potential," Osgood Center for International Studies, Washington, DC (August 14, 2014)
  • Panelist, "Iran Sanctions and Nuclear Negotiations - Prospects," Truman National Security Project Seminar, Washington, DC (July 31, 2014)
  • Speaker, "U.S. Sanctions on Russia - The Toolbox," George Washington University – Seminar for Scholars of Russian Political Economy, Washington, DC (May 30, 2014).
  • Featured Speaker, "U.S. Sanctions Policy and Economic Pressure," Brookings Institution Seminar, Washington, DC (May 1, 2014)
  • Speaker, "Making Sanctions Work," International Institute for Strategic Studies, Dubai, UAE (March 9-10, 2011)

Mr. Smith is a 2006 magna cum laude graduate of Harvard Law School where he was a Chayes Fellow, the recipient of the Laylin Prize for the best work in international law, and the Senior Editor of the Harvard International Law Journal. He graduated magna cum laude from Brown University in 1996 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science and Economics, and an M.Phil in Politics from Oxford University in 1998 where he was the Seaton Scholar in Politics at St. Hugh's College.  Following law school, Mr. Smith served as a law clerk for the Honorable James Baker on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces. Mr. Smith subsequently practiced for more than three years at a major international law firm in Washington, DC, where he advised clients on trade policy, national security, regulatory reform and risk, FCPA, and international investment.  He has also held postings with the United Nations in New York, the World Bank / IFC in Washington, DC and abroad, and the OECD in France. 

*Representation occurred prior to Mr. Smith's association with Gibson Dunn.


  • Harvard University - 2006 - Juris Doctor
  • University of Oxford - 1998 - Master of Philosophy
  • Brown University - 1996 - Bachelor of Arts


  • District of Columbia Bar
  • Maryland Bar

Recent Publications