If OFAC suspects that a company has violated or attempted to get around sanctions, they may freeze funds or property, and launch an investigation, in order to get to the bottom of it. Property includes everything material, such as currency, assets, hardware, etc. A transaction is defined as any form of dealing in property from one person or entity to another.  If you want to know more about your options if you are suspected of violating sanctions programs, speak with a knowledgeable attorney that could help.

Releasing Funds During an OFAC Investigation

When a bank is doing an OFAC investigation or a sanctions compliance review of a wire transfer, there is no concrete way to release the funds until the bank has reached out to the person under review and communicated the best way to cooperate and keep the funds out of a frozen account. It is important to expeditiously communicate with a bank in understanding and retaining as much information as possible about the investigation and to seem as cooperative as possible. If a person believes that they may have a serious sanctions issue, it is advisable to speak with an OFAC sanctions attorney as soon as possible to diagnose the issue at hand and communicate with the appropriate US or international financial institution about releasing funds frozen by OFAC.

What is an Unblocking Application

An unblocking application is an OFAC license application that seeks to unfreeze or unblock funds held in an interest-bearing account or blocked account at the US or international financial institution. Financial institutions may block funds if they believe that there is a legitimate sanctions issue with the wire transfer and that the transfer may result in the bank facilitating a violation of sanctions. An unblocking application would provide all the necessary facts and information about the wire transfer, explain whether or not the transaction or the wire transfer actually violated any sanction and layout policy legal arguments as to why the funds should be unblocked and released by the bank to the submitter of the unblocking application. An OFAC sanctions attorney can help draft and submit a comprehensive unblocking application to OFAC to increase the chances of the release of the blocked funds.

How an Unblocking Application Works

To release funds frozen by OFAC, an unblocking application must be submitted to OFAC and reviewed. There is no fee to file an unblocking application with OFAC. OFAC will provide a determination as to whether the violation of sanctions occurred and whether it is in US sanctions policy to release the funds. It is advisable for an OFAC sanctions attorney to review the block, transfer, and business activity and to submit an unblocking application to OFAC to release the funds.

To write an unblocking application, an attorney will need background incorporation documents, ownership documents, invoices, receipts, information about the underlying transaction, information about the parties involved in the transaction, the forms of properties in the transaction, the countries involved in the transaction, wire transfer documents, and the identity of the intermediary bank and the receiving bank.

How an OFAC Attorney Could Help

If a company has had their funds frozen by OFAC pending an investigation, it is important to seek the services of a capable attorney who could help. An OFAC lawyer could help a person communicate with a bank by calling the compliance department of the bank in charge of the investigation or in charge of the review of the frozen funds. They could submit written documents that advocate for releasing funds frozen by OFAC. In order to learn more, a capable attorney could devote the time and resources necessary to achieve a positive outcome for them.