January 18, 2024

OFAC Basics: it’s movie time!

On January 18, 2024, the Office of Foreign Assets Control of the United States Department of the Treasury released a ten-minute video explaining how to use OFAC’s sanctions list search tool, and how to assess potential matches with OFAC sanctions.

The video describes the various sanctions lists maintained by OFAC.  The best known of these is the Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons List, the “SDN” list.  There are more than 10,000 individuals and entities – including companies, aircraft and maritime vessels — on the SDN list.  All of them are subject to OFAC blocking sanctions, meaning that US persons are generally prohibited from transacting with those parties, and assets and entities in the United States or in the possession or control of a US person are blocked.  OFAC regulations prescribe the manner in which blocked assets must be frozen.

OFAC maintains other “non-SDN” lists, which don’t generally require blocking.

All US persons and persons making use of the US financial system must comply with OFAC sanctions.  So sanctions screening tools are an important first step.  OFAC’s sanctions list search screening program is a free, web-based tool designed for use by individual users.  A link to the tool is available on OFAC’s website and here.  Using the infamous El Chapo as an example, the video explains every search field in the program, and, as a bonus, offers instruction on basic search techniques.  Finally, the video points the user in the general direction of what to do when a search results in a sanctions list match.  Willkie attorneys are available to help you navigate the potentially serious issues that arise when your search hits on an SDN list match.

OFAC Sanctions List Search Tool