The following blog is excerpted from an interview with an OFAC attorney in which they discuss transnational criminal organizations.
What exactly is a transnational criminal organization (TCO)?
A transnational criminal organization is any transnational criminal organization identified by the United States that threatens its national security, foreign policy, or economy.
Where does the legal authority come from for TCO sanctions?
The Transnational Criminal Organization Sanctions are primarily derived from the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA). On July 24, 2011 the president issued Executive Order 13581, which created the sanctions program and designated an initial list of criminal organizations. Since then, the Department of the Treasury has designated additional organizations and persons who either work for or are involved with such organizations.
Do you think the TCO sanctions program had its roots in certain types of crimes?
Not really. Transnational criminal organizations are designated because whatever crimes they are committing are impacting U.S. foreign policy or national security. They tend to be drug traffickers, human traffickers or money launderers. Those are the typical crimes, but there is no limitation on what crimes could rise to the level of harming U.S. foreign policy or national security. The executive order explains what the United States is looking for. TCOs specifically threaten the stability of international, political, and economic systems and are involved in the operations of many foreign governments which are national security risks to the United States. These organizations also weaken democratic institutions; they degrade the rule of law and undermine economic markets, all of which harms the United States. Any transnational criminal organization whose activities have reached that level of risk to the United States is subject to being designated.
Which parties besides the Department of the Treasury are involved in designating or removing designations of foreign persons under TCO sanctions?
Executive order 13581 requires the Treasury to consult with the Attorney General and the Secretary of State in making TCO designations. This means that the designation efforts are shared by the Justice, State, and Treasury departments. In terms of the removal process, you can file a request for removal with the Department of the Treasury, but it may help your case to send a copy of that same reconsideration request to these other agencies. Most likely the Treasury will be consulting with their counterparts at the State and Justice departments to determine whether or not they need to remove an organization from the list.
What is the Foreign Sanctions Evaders (FSE) List and how is it different from the SDN List?
Foreign Sanctions Evaders are people who have been designated pursuant to the Foreign Sanctions Evader program. That covers anybody who acts in a way that facilitates the evasion of sanctions by either helping SDNs move their assets or structuring transactions so that SDNs can avoid detection by the agency.