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ChinaCubaExportInternational TradeIRANU.S. Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC)

OFAC Sanctions & Licensing

posted by Jennifer Diaz June 1, 2021 0 comments

Co-Authored by Sharath Patil

Background on U.S. Sanctions (as of May, 2021)

The U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (“OFAC”) administers a number of different sanctions programs. The purpose of U.S. sanctions programs is to advance U.S. foreign policy objectives and protect national security. Currently, OFAC administers 35 sanctions programs. These sanctions programs vary widely – some are comprehensive while others are highly selective.

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ExportInternational TradeIRANU.S. Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC)

The CAPTA List – An Introduction

posted by Jennifer Diaz April 15, 2021 0 comments

Co-Authored by Sharath Patil

What’s the CAPTA List?

The Correspondent Account or Payable-Through Account Sanctions List (“CAPTA” List”) is a list maintained by the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (“OFAC”). The CAPTA List identifies foreign financial institutions that are prohibited or in some way restricted from maintaining a correspondent account or a payable-through account in the United States.

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Commerce Department Issues Rule Securing Digital Supply Chains Against Foreign Adversaries

posted by Jennifer Diaz February 16, 2021 0 comments

NIST Releases Draft Guidance on Internet of Things Device Cybersecurity | NIST

Co-Authored by Sharath Patil

Background on Securing Information Technology & Communications Supply Chains

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Treasury Imposes Further Sanctions on Iran

posted by Jennifer Diaz January 12, 2021 0 comments

Co-Authored by Sharath Patil

Background on Iran Sanctions 

The United States has imposed restrictions on activities with Iran under various legal authorities since 1979, following the seizure of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran following the Iranian Revolution. In October 2015, the United States, the United Kingdom, France, China, and Russia, as well as Germany (known collectively as the P5 +1) met with Iran and successfully negotiated the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (“JCPOA”). Pursuant to the JCPOA, Iran agreed to roll back parts of its nuclear program in exchange for relief from some sanctions. According to United Nations Security Council Resolution 2231, the JCPOA would result in “the comprehensive lifting of all UN Security Council sanctions as well as multilateral and national sanctions related to Iran’s nuclear program, including steps on access in areas of trade, technology, finance, and energy.” The few years of decreased economic sanctions towards Iran came to an end in May 2018 when the Trump administration unilaterally withdrew from the JCPOA. The return of increased U.S. sanctions towards Iran came into effect in November 2018.

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Best PracticesExportInternational TravelU.S. Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC)

Ready to Travel to Cuba? OFAC Simplifies Process

posted by Jennifer Diaz April 29, 2013 1 Comment

On April 18, 2013, the Office of Foreign Assets Control ("OFAC") announced its effort to streamline license processing procedures by accepting requests for licenses, license amendments, and interpretive guidance electronically. This will not only simplify the process for those that wish to travel to Cuba, this new electronic application program can also be used for applications to request the release of blocked funds and much more.

 

For those that are more "old school" – you still have the opportunity to submit applications by snail mail pursuant to 31 C.F.R. § 501.801.

 

The new electronic OFAC License Application Page will allow users to apply:

  1. to travel to Cuba (for many, though not all, categories of travel to Cuba);
  2. to export agricultural commodities, medicine, or medical devices to Sudan or Iran pursuant to the Trade Sanctions Reform and Export Enhancement Act of 2000;
  3. for the release of a wire transfer blocked at a U.S. financial institution; and
  4. for a license or interpretive guidance in all other circumstances (referred to generally as Transactional).

For those wishing to travel to Cuba in a jiffy, you must first consult an expert to review and assure you understand the Comprehensive Guidelines for License Applications to Engage in Travel-Related Transactions Involving Cuba.  Once you know that you can apply to OFAC for your specific category of travel – the next step is reviewing the online application page.

Thus far, the electronic form may be used to apply for licenses to travel to Cuba in the following categories of travel, which are not generally authorized pursuant to 31 C.F.R. 515:   

  • Journalistic Activities
  • Professional Research and Professional Meetings
  • Religious Activities
  • Support for the Cuban People
  • Humanitarian Projects Activities of Private Foundations  
  • Research or Educational Institutes Exportation
  • Importation
  • Transmission of Information or Informational Materials
  • Licensed Exportations

The OFAC has stated that they intend to update the online application system in the future so that all the categories of travel (including family visits, educational activities, public performances, clinics, workshops, competitions, and exhibitions) may be applied for using this streamlined online process.

 

If you want to travel to Cuba, want to export agricultural commodities, medicine, or medical devices to Sudan or Iran, have funds blocked by OFAC, or want interpretive guidance from OFAC, assure you consult a regulatory expert so you have the best chance for success with OFAC.

U.S. Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC)

Maersk Pays $3 Million for Trading With Iran and Sudan

posted by Jennifer Diaz August 16, 2010 0 comments

Maersk Line, Ltd. paid the U.S. Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) $3 million to settle allegations of violations of the U.S. trade embargo with Sudan and Iran that Maersk committed between 2003 and 2007.   How the world’s largest ocean transportation company committed such violations is a good story. How Maersk’s lawyer was able to limit the payment to $3 million is also important to understand.

According to the OFAC Enforcement Information for July 28, 2010,

OFAC’s investigation alleged that Maersk provided unlicensed shipping services for 4,714 shipments of cargo originating in or bound for Sudan and Iran. These services involved the transportation of such cargo on vessels owned, operated, and/or chartered by Maersk’s parent, A.P. Moller-Maersk A/S on at least one leg of the cargo’s journey to or from Sudan and Iran.

This is very interestingly worded by OFAC.  As A.P. Moller-Maersk A/S, a Danish conglomerate, is not bound by the U.S. laws regarding trade sanctions with Sudan and Iran, it could provide unrestricted vessels services in those countries.  If, however, any part of the cargo to or from those countries were transported on a U.S.-flagged vessel, then a violation of the U.S. laws would occur.  Cargo is often shifted from ship to ship between the port of departure and the port of delivery, and A.P. Moller -Maersk did not carefully trace the cargo from Sudan and Iran as well as it should have to prevent the cargo from touching a U.S.-flagged vessel.

Using OFAC’s Economic Sanction Enforcement Guidelines effective November 9, 2009, the penalty against Maersk could have been $61 million.  Even though Maersk did not voluntarily self-disclosure the violations to OFAC, the Settlement and payment of only $3 million reflects the mitigating factors of:

  • the non-egregious nature of the violation;
  • no violations by Maersk in the prior 5 years;
  • substantial and effective remediation measures were implemented by Maersk; and
  • substantial and full cooperation with OFAC officials during the investigation.

For non-U.S. based multinationals, compliance with U.S. trade laws and regulations enforced by OFAC and the export controls enforced by the Bureau of Industry and Security of the U.S. Department of Commerce is often confusing.   Moreover, if the world’s largest, most sophisticated shipping company, and one with an excellent reputation for service and integrity, is doing business with Iran and Sudan, what does that say about the effectiveness of the U.S. sanctions and trade embargo programs?