How does someone get their name removed from the SDN list?

OFAC Attorney: There is an administrative procedure for removal. A person can file a request to be removed from the SDN list with the Office of Foreign Assets Control. There are two bases under which someone can be removed from the list. The first one is if that they were put on the list by mistake. In that circumstance, the person has to put together an application with OFAC that proves that they are not the intended target or that their designation is some sort of mistake. The other way by which a name can be removed is a change in circumstances. The person usually has to admit that the original basis for designation was correct and that they may have been involved in some activities in the past that were harmful to the United States, but that the circumstances have since changed. One example might be if a company on the SDN list was at one point owned or controlled by a designated drug trafficker or other SDN. But if that SDN or drug trafficker is currently imprisoned or the company is under new ownership, then there may be a basis for removal from the SDN List.

Such facts can be presented to OFAC to demonstrate that the circumstances have changed and the basis for applying sanctions against that business are no longer relevant. OFAC will usually prepare a questionnaire to ask further questions regarding the removal request.  There is usually a back and forth between the agency and the person seeking reconsideration until OFAC has enough information to credibly believe that original circumstances justifying sanctions no longer apply.  Without a high level of credibility, OFAC will likely not remove the person from the SDN List.  The person or business seeking reconsideration has to be persistent and thorough in their request. Having an attorney familiar with the reconsideration process work on your reconsideration can be helpful.

What common mistakes do people make that result in them being placed on the SDN list?

OFAC Attorney: There are not really common mistakes that a person can avoid in terms of being put on the SDN list. There are ways to violate sanctions by mistakenly dealing with someone who is on the SDN list, but in terms of getting put on the SDN list, there is not much that a person can do except not engage in activity that is harmful to the United States.

Is being served with an OFAC administrative subpoena the same as being placed on the SDN list?

OFAC Attorney: No, it is not. The SDN list is a consolidated list of people who have sanctions imposed against them. An administrative subpoena would be sent to a U.S. business or U.S. person who might have violated the sanctions by transacting with somebody who is on the SDN list. When OFAC enforces sanctions, it enforces them against U.S. persons and they use the administrative subpoena process to investigate the facts. Individuals are obligated under U.S. law to respond truthfully to that subpoena. Once OFAC has all the information, they make a determination as to whether a violation has occurred. That enforcement function is very different than the targeting function, which is what the SDN list represents. It imposes sanctions on the foreign person or foreign company for undertaking activities that are deemed a threat to the United States.

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