Office of Foreign Assets Control

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Office of Foreign Assets Control
Logo of the U.S. Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC).jpg
Agency overview
Formed December 1950
Preceding
  • Office of Foreign Funds Control
Headquarters Washington, D.C.
Employees Approximately 200 (2013)[1]
Annual budget $30.9 million (2013)
Agency executive
Parent department Department of the Treasury

The Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) is a financial intelligence and enforcement agency of the U.S. Treasury Department. It administers and enforces economic and trade sanctions in support of U.S. national security and foreign policy objectives.[3] Under Presidential national emergency powers, OFAC carries out its activities against foreign states as well as a variety of other organizations and individuals, like terrorist groups, deemed to be a threat to U.S. national security.[4]

As a component of the U.S. Treasury Department, OFAC operates under the Office of Terrorism and Financial Intelligence and is primarily composed of intelligence targeters and lawyers. While many of OFAC's targets are broadly set by the White House, most individual cases are developed as a result of investigations by OFAC's Office of Global Targeting (OGT).[5]

Sometimes described as one of the "most powerful yet unknown" government agencies,[5][6] OFAC was founded in 1950 and has the power to levy significant penalties against entities that defy its directives, including imposing fines, freezing assets, and barring parties from operating in the United States. In 2014, OFAC reached a record $963 million settlement with the French bank BNP Paribas, which was a portion of an $8.9 billion penalty imposed in relation to the case as a whole.[7]

History

Involvement of the U.S. Department of the Treasury in economic sanctions against foreign states dates to the War of 1812, when Secretary Albert Gallatin administered sanctions against Great Britain in retaliation for the impressment (harassment) of American sailors.[4][8]

The Division of Foreign Assets Control, the immediate predecessor to OFAC, was established in December 1950. Predecessor agencies of the Division of Foreign Assets Control include Foreign Funds Control, which existed from 1940 to 1947, and the Office of International Finance (1947 to 1950). OFAC's earliest predecessor, Foreign Funds Control, was established by Executive Order 8389 as a unit of the Office of the Secretary of the Treasury on April 10, 1940. The authority to establish Foreign Funds Control was derived from the Trading with the Enemy Act 1917. Among other operations, Foreign Funds Control administered wartime import controls over enemy assets and restrictions on trade with enemy states. It also participated in administering the Proclaimed List of Certain Blocked Nationals, or the "Black List", and took censuses of foreign-owned assets in the United States and American-owned assets abroad. Foreign Funds Control was abolished in 1947, with its functions transferred to the newly established Office of International Finance (OIF). In 1948, OIF activities relating to blocked foreign funds were transferred to the Office of Alien Property, an agency within the Department of Justice.[9]

The Division of Foreign Assets Control was established in the Office of International Finance by a Treasury Department order in 1950, following the entry of the People's Republic of China into the Korean War; President Harry S. Truman declared a national emergency and blocked all Chinese and North Korean assets subject to U.S. jurisdiction. In addition to blocking Chinese and North Korean assets, the Division administered certain regulations and orders issued under the amended Trading with the Enemy Act.[8] On October 15, 1962, by a Treasury Department order, the Division of Foreign Assets Control became the Office of Foreign Assets Control.[9]

John E. Smith served as OFAC director in both the Obama[10] and Trump administrations.[2]

Authority and activities

OFAC is headquartered in the Treasury Annex, located on the corner of Pennsylvania Avenue and Madison Place, N.W., in Washington, D.C.

In addition to the Trading with the Enemy Act and the various national emergencies currently in effect, OFAC derives its authority from a variety of U.S. federal laws regarding embargoes and economic sanctions.[11]

In enforcing economic sanctions, OFAC acts to prevent "prohibited transactions", which are described by OFAC as "trade or financial transactions and other dealings in which U.S. persons may not engage unless authorized by OFAC or expressly exempted by statute". OFAC has the authority to grant exemptions to prohibitions on such transactions, either by issuing a general license for certain categories of transactions, or by specific licenses issued on a case-by-case basis.[8] OFAC administers and enforces economic sanctions programs against countries, businesses or groups of individuals, using the blocking of assets and trade restrictions to accomplish foreign policy and national security goals. See United States embargoes for a list of affected countries.

Under the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA), the U.S. President is empowered during national emergencies to block the removal of foreign assets under the jurisdiction of the United States. That mandate is executed by OFAC by issuing regulations that direct financial institutions accordingly.

Between 1994 and 2003, OFAC collected over $8 million in violations of the Cuban embargo, against just under $10,000 for terrorism financing violations. It had ten times more agents assigned to tracking financial activities relating to Cuba than to Osama Bin Laden.[12]

As part of its efforts to support the Iraq sanctions, in 2005, OFAC fined Voices in the Wilderness $20,000 for gifting medicine and other humanitarian supplies to Iraqis.[13] In a similar case, OFAC is still attempting to collect (as of 2011) a $10,000 fine, plus interest, against Bert Sacks for bringing medicine to residents of Basra.[14]

In October 2007, a set of Spanish travel agency websites had their domain name access disabled by eNom: the domain names had been on the OFAC blacklist.[15][16] When queried, the U.S. Treasury referred to a 2004 press release that claimed the company "had helped Americans evade restrictions on travel to Cuba".[15]

In the case of United States v. Banki, on June 5, 2010, a U.S. citizen was convicted of violating the Iran Trade Embargo for failing to request Iranian currency transfer licenses in advance from OFAC. On August 25, 2010, the Iranian American Bar Association announced that it would file an amicus curiae brief with the Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit on United States v. Banki.[17] It has also hired lawyers to request further guidance from OFAC on import of goods from Iran.[18]

Appointment as director is not subject to Senate confirmation.[2]

Specially Designated Nationals

OFAC publishes a list of Specially Designated Nationals (SDNs), which lists people, organizations, and vessels with whom U.S. citizens and permanent residents are prohibited from doing business.[8] This list differs from the list maintained pursuant to Section 314(a) of the Patriot Act.[19]

When an entity or individual is placed on the SDN list it can petition OFAC to reconsider. But OFAC is not required to remove an individual or entity from the SDN list. Two federal court cases have found the current Treasury/OFAC process to be constitutionally deficient.

In August 2009, a federal court ruling in KindHearts v. Treasury found that Treasury's seizure of KindHearts assets without notice or means of appeal is a violation of the Fourth and Fifth Amendments.[20]

On September 23, 2011, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a lower court's ruling that procedures used by Treasury to shut down the Oregon-based Al Haramain Islamic Foundation in 2004 was unconstitutional. The court said the Fifth Amendment's guarantee of due process required Treasury to give adequate notice of the reasons it puts a group on the terrorist list, as well as a meaningful opportunity to respond. In addition, the court ruled that freezing the group's assets amounts to a seizure under the Fourth Amendment, so that a court order is required.[21]

As of October 7, 2015, the SDN List had more than 15,200 entries from 155 countries. Of those, 178 entries were for aircraft and 575 entries were for ships ("vessels"). The remaining 14,467 entries were for designated individuals and organizations.[22] OFAC creates separate entries in the SDN list for each alias of a designee, so the number of entries does not reflect the number of designees.[4]

Sectoral Sanctions Identifications

OFAC publishes a list of Sectoral Sanctions Indentifications (SSI), which lists persons, companies, and entities in sectors of the Russian economy (especially energy, finance, and armaments) with whom United States persons and persons within the United States are prohibited from doing business.[23] This list is maintained following the issuance of EO 13662 Blocking Property of Additional Persons Contributing to the Situation in Ukraine on March 20, 2014, in accordance with 79 FR 16167.[24]

On August 13, 2014, the United States Department of Treasury issued guidance for entities under sectoral sanctions. United States increased the number of entities on the sectoral sanctions identifications list by adding subsidiaries of entities under sectoral sanctions that hold 50% or greater ownership by a entity under sectoral sanctions either individually or in the aggregate, either directly or indirectly. Also, US persons cannot use a third party intermediary and they must use caution during "transactions with a non-blocked entity in which one or more blocked persons has a significant ownership interest that is less than 50% or which one or more blocked persons may control by means other than a majority ownership interest."[25]

On December 22, 2015, the United States Department of Treasury explicitly listed all entities and their subsidiaries on the sectoral sanctions identifications list using a human readable search.[26][27][28]

Sanctions programs

As of November 10, 2015, OFAC was administering the following sanctions programs:[29]

Table note: The numbers of individuals, companies, vessels, and aircraft are taken from the SDN List. However, any single entry on that list may be a target of multiple sanctions programs, so summing lines of the table will inflate the true sum due to duplication.

Tag Last updated Sanctions program Individuals Companies Vessels Aircraft 31 CFR CFR date EO EO
[561LIST] Iran Financial 561[30]
[BALKANS] Balkans related[31] 229 588[32] 13304[33]
[BELARUS] Belarus 208 548 13405
[BPI-PA] Patriot Act[34]
[BPI-SDNTK] Narcotics related[35] 598
[BURMA] Myanmar related 219 537 13448 13464
[CAR] Central African Republic 39 553
[COTED] Côte d'Ivoire 9 543
[CUBA] Cuban Assets Control 220 5 515
[CYBER] Computer hacking related 13694[36]
[DARFUR] Darfur 28 3 546
[DPRK] North Korea 7 44 20 510 13551
[DPRK2] North Korea related 10 16 13687
[DRCONGO] Democratic Republic of the Congo 106 27 547
[EO13622] Iran related 17 6 13622[37]
[EO13645] Iran related 9 10 9 13645[38]
[FSE-IR] Iran sanctions evaders 3 2 13608[39]
[FSE-SY] Syria sanctions evaders 13608[39]
[FSE-WMD] WMD related[40] 13608[39]
[FSE-SDGT] Terrorism related[41] 13608[39]
[FTO] Terrorism related[42] 552 597
[GLOMAG] Global Magnitsky Sanctions Regulations[43] 552 597
[HRIT-IR] Iran human rights 26 13606[44]
[HRIT-SY] Syria human rights 2 6 13606[44]
[IFCA] Iran related[45]
[IFSR] Iranian Financial 239 857 60 561
[IRAN] Iranian Transactions 19 416 175 560
[IRAN-HR] Iran related 54 37 13553[46]
[IRAN-TRA] Iran related 16 45 13628[47]
[IRAQ2] Iraq related 287 84 13315 13350
[IRAQ3] Iraq related 102 48 13438
[IRGC] Iranian Financial 112 120 38 561
[ISA] Iran Act 3 17 13574
[JADE] Myanmar Jade[48]
[LEBANON] Lebanon 13 549 13441
[LIBERIA] Former Liberian Regime of Charles Taylor 45 70 593
[LIBYA2] Libya related 134 3 570
[MAGNIT] Magnitsky Act[49] 54
[NPWMD] WMD related[50] 211 892 351 76 544
[NS-ISA] Iran related[51] 13574
[NS-PLC] Palestinian License[52] 594[53]
[SDGT] Terrorism related[54] 3,015 1,963 101 594
[SDNT] Narcotics related[55] 436 511 536
[SDNTK] Narcotics related[56] 2102 1125 5 598
[SDT] Terrorism 63 143 595
[SOMALIA] Somalia 199 20 551
[SUDAN] Sudan related 223 538
[SOUTH SUDAN] South Sudan 558 13664
[SYRIA] Syria related 235 180 10 38 542 13399 13460
[TCO] Transnational Criminal Organizations 201 41 590 13581[57]
[UKRAINE-EO13660] Ukraine related 193 31 13660[58]
[UKRAINE-EO13661] Ukraine related 95 144 13661[59]
[UKRAINE-EO13662] Ukraine related 13662[60]
[UKRAINE-EO13685] Ukraine related 42 13685[61]
[VENEZUELA] Venezuela related 7 13692[62]
[YEMEN] Yemen 23 552
[ZIMBABWE] Zimbabwe 121 119 541[63] 13391 13469

See also

References

  1. ^ Klimasinska, Kasia, Dakin Campbell and Ian Katz. Banks Woo Treasury Sanctions Pros to Navigate Complex U.S. Rules, Bloomberg, August 13, 2014.
  2. ^ a b c Rubenfeld, Samuel, "U.S. Treasury Appoints OFAC Director Without Fanfare", Wall Street Journal, March 17, 2017. First public mention: March 14, 2017. Retrieved 2017-03-17.
  3. ^ Tom C.W. Lin (April 2016). "Financial Weapons of War" (PDF). Minnesota Law Review. 100 (4): 1377–1440. 
  4. ^ a b c Zarate, Juan C. (2013). Treasury's War. New York: PublicAffairs. ISBN 9781610391153. 
  5. ^ a b Yukhananov, Anna, and Warren Strobel, "After Success on Iran, U.S. Treasury's Sanctions Team Faces New Challenges", Reuters, April 14, 2014.
  6. ^ Rubenfeld, Samuel. "OFAC Rises as Sanctions Become A Major Policy Tool", Wall Street Journal, February 5, 2014
  7. ^ "Treasury Reaches Largest Ever Sanctions-Related Settlement with BNP Paribas SA for $963 Million", U.S. Department of the Treasury, June 30, 2014
  8. ^ a b c d "Frequently Asked Questions". Office of Foreign Assets Control. Archived from the original on 2007-10-18. Retrieved 2007-09-17. 
  9. ^ a b "Records of the Office of Foreign Assets Control". The National Archives. Retrieved 2007-09-17. 
  10. ^ "Treasury Announces Additional Sanctions Against Iranian Engineering and Shipping Firms". Press release by OFAC Director Adam J. Szubin. March 28, 2012. Retrieved April 3, 2012.
  11. ^ For example Executive Order 12957, Executive Order 12938, etc.
  12. ^ CounterPunch, "How the Patriot Act Perpetuates Official Robberies" Archived 2010-01-23 at the Wayback Machine.
  13. ^ "Voices in the Wilderness Ordered to Pay $20K for Bringing Aid to Iraq". Democracy Now!. 2005-08-16. Retrieved 2011-06-08. 
  14. ^ "Timeline". Fined For Helping Iraqi Kids. Retrieved 2011-06-08. 
  15. ^ a b Liptak, Adam (2008-03-04). "A Wave of the Watch List, and Speech Disappears". The New York Times. Retrieved 23 August 2012. 80 of his Web sites stopped working, thanks to the United States government ... eNom told him it did so after a call from the Treasury Department 
  16. ^ "SDN by Programs". treasury.gov. 2006. Archived from the original on 2006-09-24. Retrieved 23 August 2012. GO CUBA PLUS (a.k.a. T&M INTERNATIONAL LTD.; a.k.a. TOUR & MARKETING INTERNATIONAL LTD. ...) 
  17. ^ "IABA to File Amicus Brief in Appeal Before Second Circuit" Archived 2010-10-27 at the Wayback Machine.
  18. ^ IABA Hires Lawyers to Request Further Guidance from OFAC Archived 2010-10-27 at the Wayback Machine.
  19. ^ Erich Ferrari, "IP Services Under The ITSR: A Broad Exception?", Sanction Law, Ferrari & Associates, 12 February 2018
  20. ^ "KindHearts for Charitable Humanitarian Development, Inc. v. Geithner et al.". ACLU. November 22, 2011. 
  21. ^ "Al Haramain v. Department of Treasury" (PDF). U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. Retrieved 27 September 2011. 
  22. ^ "Specially Designated Nationals List (SDN)". U.S. Department of Treasury. 
  23. ^ "Sectoral Sanctions Identifications (SSI) List". US Department of Treasury: OFAC. January 26, 2018. Retrieved March 23, 2018. 
  24. ^ "Blocking Property of Additional Persons Contributing to the Situation in Ukraine". Federal Register. 2014-03-24. Retrieved 2018-02-04. 
  25. ^ "Revised Guidance on Entities Owned by Persons Whose Property and Interests in Property Are Blocked" (PDF). United States Department of Treasury. August 13, 2014. Retrieved March 22, 2018. 
  26. ^ "Treasury Sanctions Individuals and Entities for Sanctions Evasion and Other Activities Related to Russia and Ukraine: Underscores U.S. Commitment To Work With The EU To Maintain The Efficacy Of Existing Sanctions Until Russia Fully Complies With Its International Obligations With Respect To Ukraine". US Department of the Treasury. December 22, 2015. Retrieved February 10, 2018. 
  27. ^ "Russia/Ukraine-related Sanctions and Identifications: Specially Designated Nationals List Update". US Department of the Treasury. December 22, 2015. Retrieved February 10, 2018. 
  28. ^ "Executive Order - Blocking Property of Additional Persons Contributing to the Situation in Ukraine". The White House - Office of the Press Secretary. Retrieved February 10, 2018. 
  29. ^ "Sanctions programs and country information". treasury.gov. US Department of Treasury. November 10, 2015. Retrieved November 12, 2015. 
  30. ^ "Part 561 — Iranian Financial Sanctions Regulations". Electronic Code of Federal Regulations. Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office. Retrieved November 12, 2015. 
  31. ^ "Western Balkans Stabilization"
  32. ^ "Part 588 — Western Balkans Stabilization Regulations". Electronic Code of Federal Regulations. Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office. Retrieved November 12, 2015. 
  33. ^ Bush, George W. (May 23, 2003). "Executive Order 13304 – Termination of Emergencies With Respect to Yugoslavia and Modification of Executive Order 13219 of June 26, 2001" (pdf). Federal Register. Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office (published May 29, 2003). 68 (103). Retrieved November 12, 2015. 
  34. ^ Blocked pending investigation
  35. ^ "Foreign Narcotics Kingpin", blocked pending investigation
  36. ^ Obama, Barack (April 1, 2015). "Executive Order 13694 – Blocking the Property of Certain Persons Engaging in Significant Malicious Cyber-Enabled Activities" (pdf). Federal Register. Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office. 80 (63). Retrieved November 13, 2015. 
  37. ^ Obama, Barack (July 30, 2012). "Executive Order 13622 – Authorizing Additional Sanctions With Respect to Iran" (pdf). Federal Register. Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office (published August 2, 2012). 77 (149). Retrieved November 12, 2015. 
  38. ^ Obama, Barack (June 3, 2013). "Executive Order 13645 – Authorizing the Implementation of Certain Sanctions Set Forth in the Iran Freedom and Counter-Proliferation Act of 2012 and Additional Sanctions With Respect To Iran" (pdf). Federal Register. Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office (published June 5, 2013). 78 (108). Retrieved November 12, 2015. 
  39. ^ a b c d Obama, Barack (May 1, 2012). "Executive Order 13608 – Prohibiting Certain Transactions With and Suspending Entry Into the United States of Foreign Sanctions Evaders With Respect to Iran and Syria" (pdf). Federal Register. Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office (published May 3, 2012). 77 (86). Retrieved November 12, 2015. 
  40. ^ "Non Proliferation sanctions evaders"
  41. ^ "Anti-terrorism sanctions evaders"
  42. ^ "Foreign Terrorist Organizations"
  43. ^ "Magnitsky Act"
  44. ^ a b Obama, Barack (April 22, 2012). "Executive Order 13606 – Blocking the Property and Suspending Entry Into the United States of Certain Persons With Respect to Grave Human Rights Abuses by the Governments of Iran and Syria via Information Technology" (pdf). Federal Register. Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office (published April 24, 2012). 77 (79). Retrieved November 12, 2015. 
  45. ^ Iran Freedom and Counter-Proliferation Act of 2012, PL 112-239
  46. ^ Obama, Barack (September 28, 2010). "Executive Order 13553 – Blocking Property of Certain Persons With Respect to Serious Human Rights Abuses by the Government of Iran and Taking Certain Other Actions" (pdf). Federal Register. Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office (published October 10, 2010). 75 (190). Retrieved November 12, 2015. 
  47. ^ Obama, Barack (October 9, 2012). "Executive Order 13628 – Authorizing the Implementation of Certain Sanctions Set Forth in the Iran Threat Reduction and Syria Human Rights Act of 2012 and Additional Sanctions With Respect to Iran" (pdf). Federal Register. Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office (published October 12, 2012). 77 (198). Retrieved November 12, 2015. 
  48. ^ Lantos, Tom (July 29, 2008). "Block Burmese Jade (Junta's Anti-Democratic Efforts) Act Of 2008" (pdf). Public Law. Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office. 110 (286). Retrieved November 12, 2015. 
  49. ^ Sergei Magnitsky Rule of Law Accountability Act of 2012, PL 112-208
  50. ^ "Weapons of Mass Destruction Proliferators"
  51. ^ Non-SDN Iranian Act
  52. ^ Hammerle, Barbara (April 12, 2006). "General License No. 4 – Transactions with entities under the control of the Palestinian President and certain other entities" (PDF). Washington, D.C.: Office Of Foreign Assets Control. Retrieved November 12, 2015. 
  53. ^ "Part 594 — Global Terrorism Sanctions Regulations". Electronic Code of Federal Regulations. Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office. Retrieved November 12, 2015. 
  54. ^ "Global Terrorism"
  55. ^ "Narcotics Trafficking"
  56. ^ "Foreign Narcotics Kingpin"
  57. ^ Obama, Barack (July 24, 2011). "Executive Order 13581 – Blocking Property of Transnational Criminal Organizations" (pdf). Federal Register. Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office (published July 27, 2011). 76 (144). Retrieved November 12, 2015. 
  58. ^ Obama, Barack (March 6, 2014). "Executive Order 13660 — Blocking Property of Certain Persons Contributing to the Situation in Ukraine" (pdf). Federal Register. Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office (published March 10, 2014). 79 (46). Retrieved November 12, 2015. 
  59. ^ Obama, Barack (March 16, 2014). "Executive Order 13661 — Blocking Property of Additional Persons Contributing to the Situation in Ukraine" (pdf). Federal Register. Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office (published March 19, 2014). 79 (53). Retrieved November 12, 2015. 
  60. ^ Obama, Barack (March 20, 2014). "Executive Order 13662 — Blocking Property of Additional Persons Contributing to the Situation in Ukraine" (pdf). Federal Register. Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office (published March 24, 2014). 79 (56). Retrieved November 12, 2015.  "Directive 1 (as amended) under executive order 13662" (pdf). OFAC. September 12, 2014. Retrieved November 12, 2015.  "Directive 2 (as amended) under executive order 13662" (pdf). OFAC. September 12, 2014. Retrieved November 12, 2015.  "Directive 3 under executive order 13662" (pdf). OFAC. September 12, 2014. Retrieved November 12, 2015.  "Directive 4 under executive order 13662" (pdf). OFAC. September 12, 2014. Retrieved November 12, 2015. 
  61. ^ Obama, Barack (December 19, 2014). "Executive Order 13685 — Blocking Property of Certain Persons and Prohibiting Certain Transactions With Respect to the Crimea Region of Ukraine" (pdf). Federal Register. Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office (published December 24, 2014). 79 (247). Retrieved November 12, 2015. 
  62. ^ Obama, Barack (March 8, 2015). "Executive Order 13692 — Blocking Property and Suspending Entry of Certain Persons Contributing to the Situation in Venezuela" (PDF). Federal Register. Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office (published March 11, 2015). 80 (47). Archived from the original (pdf) on March 10, 2016. Retrieved November 12, 2015. 
  63. ^ also 70 FR 71201 and 73 FR 43841

External links

  • Office of Foreign Assets Control
  • Specially Designated Nationals (SDN) List
  • Office of Foreign Assets Control in the Federal Register
  • List of sanctions programs including nations
  • Free OFAC Search
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