Applying for a Specific License with OFAC

When someone is applying for a specific license with OFAC, they wish to engage in a specific transaction involving sanctions that are not otherwise authorized pursuant to an exemption or general license. In some situations, individuals need to close bank accounts they have in sanctioned countries or wind down economic activities involving a sanctioned target. Another common transaction is the sale of a business, stocks, or other investments that someone might have acquired involving sanctions. Since the country is now under sanctions, they need to ask for permission from OFAC to dispose of these assets or otherwise engage in those kinds of transactions. Read on to learn more about what goes into applying for a specific license with OFAC, as well as the ways a skilled OFAC lawyer could offer you their assistance today.

Process of Applying for a Specific License with OFAC

Unlike a court case, when filing for a specific license there is no hearing. It is an application process that is filed either online or via mail through a letter to OFAC. The process is substantially similar to preparing a request for interpretive guidance, where someone gathers the information regarding the proposed transaction first. Next, they draft a license application in letter form and submit that application to OFAC.

The first steps include gathering all necessary information. An individual would need to identify the transaction, what is being sold or acquired, and the identities of all the parties involved. This also includes any customers and middlemen who will have an interest in the transaction. Providing all of that information in a license application will hopefully improve the likelihood that OFAC will provide a ruling on their application.

Evidence and Documentation

While no explicit burden of proof exists, it is important to include detailed, accurate, and verifiable information to OFAC so that the agency can make an informed decision regarding their application. Because the evidence and documentation required all depends on the particularities of someone’s case, there are no specified requirements. Depending on the transaction they want to engage in, an individual should have supporting documentation that substantiates and supports what they want to do and why they want to do it.

 

Appealing an Unfavorable Ruling

Technically, it is possible to appeal OFAC’s decision regarding a specific license application because it is considered a final agency action. For example, if the agency denies the application, someone can appeal it in federal court or they can revise and refile their license application if they have new information for OFAC to consider. If they proceed with an action in federal court, the chance of success is incredibly low because the courts afford OFAC with extreme deference regarding its decisions. As such, it is usually best practice to present their arguments to OFAC directly in the application and to cooperate with the agency as it makes its decision. Appeals can be filed in US District Court in DC or in any other US District Court where the venue is proper.

Dealing With a Lack of a Response from OFAC

While there is no guarantee or exact science to determining how long the entire process might take, from prior experience, it takes between four and six months for OFAC to rule on simpler transactions. License applications covering more complex transactions can take up to a year or longer for them to process. If OFAC has failed to respond to someone’s application, they can call OFAC and speak with an information specialist who can inform them of the status of their application. The specialist may also put them in contact with the licensing officer assigned to their application.

The Benefits of Working with an Attorney

Someone with experience in applying for a specific license with OFAC can analyze the policy implications of a requested transaction. It is helpful to be able to identify for OFAC why the specific transaction you want to undertake is consistent with US policy and does not harm it. Doing this will hopefully improve the chances of having your license granted. If you require assistance in applying for a specific license with OFAC, contact a professional attorney today to discuss your case.