OFAC – Internal Investigations and Case Reviews - Securities Litigation & Compliance Services
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OFAC – Internal Investigations and Case Reviews

Our OFAC Compliance Lawyers Assist Companies and Financial Institutions with Internal Investigations and Case Reviews Involving All Sanction-Related Matters

John W. Sellers
Attorney John W. Sellers
SEC Defense Team Lead
Former DOJ Trial Attorney

Facing an investigation or enforcement action by the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) is a serious matter. Even if OFAC is not involved directly, having a transaction blocked or assets frozen can have significant practical and legal implications; and, as a result, companies and financial institutions must take adequate measures to ensure that they do not run afoul of OFAC sanctions.

Our firm assists companies and financial institutions with conducting internal investigations to assess OFAC compliance and address potential sanction violations. We also conduct case reviews for businesses and banks that are facing OFAC inquiries and that are dealing with private disputes related to the blocking of transactions or assets.

Internal Investigations and Case Reviews for OFAC Matters

Internal Investigations to Assess OFAC Compliance

Companies that do business with foreign governments, foreign businesses, and foreign nationals need to prioritize OFAC compliance. Since violating OFAC sanctions can have national security and/or foreign policy implications, the federal government has a very low tolerance threshold for violations—and it will err on the side of enforcement when issues arise.

At the same time, banks and companies that are tasked with assisting in OFAC’s enforcement efforts by blocking transactions and assets must be careful not to overstep their bounds. Improperly blocking a transaction or freezing an entity’s or individual’s assets can impact business relationships and jeopardize contractual performance, and those negatively affected by improper enforcement often will not hesitate to take legal action.

We conduct internal investigations for companies that need to ensure their OFAC compliance practices are adequate to avoid OFAC sanction violations. We also conduct internal investigations for companies and banks that need to ensure their blocking policies and procedures fully comply with the law. This includes conducting both ad hoc compliance investigations and conducting investigations on a regular basis as part of an overall OFAC compliance program.

Internal Investigations Involving Possible Sanction Violations

If you are concerned that your company or financial institution could be at risk due to a possible violation of OFAC sanctions, you cannot afford to make any assumptions. You need to make informed decisions based on a clear and comprehensive understanding of the circumstances at hand. In addition to conducting general OFAC compliance investigations, we also conduct investigations that target specific compliance-related concerns. If you need to know decisively whether your business or bank has violated OFAC sanctions, the Trading with the Enemy Act (TWEA), or other applicable law, we can conduct a targeted investigation focused on uncovering exactly what you need to know.

Case Reviews for OFAC Investigations

When facing an OFAC investigation, getting out in front of the investigation is paramount. If someone within your company has violated OFAC sanctions by engaging in (or attempting to engage in) a transaction with a blocked country or Specially Designated National (SDN), you need to know exactly how, when, and why the violation occurred. You need to know whether the individual or individuals involved followed company policy—or whether they pursued a prohibited transaction despite being aware of its impropriety.

You also need to know if OFAC’s investigation is misguided. Even when there are indications of possible impropriety, this does not necessarily mean that enforcement action is warranted. OFAC recognizes as much—as it will grant licenses for transactions that facially violate sanctions but do not actually impact national security or foreign policy. That said, when facing an OFAC investigation, it is incumbent on the target to demonstrate that no charges are appropriate. Our lawyers can review your company’s OFAC case to determine what defense strategies are available and gather the evidence needed to pursue a favorable resolution.

Case Reviews for Private Disputes Involving OFAC Matters

Our lawyers also conduct case reviews for private disputes involving OFAC matters. If your company has had a transaction blocked or assets frozen, or if your company or institution is facing allegations of improperly blocking or freezing, our lawyers will meticulously scrutinize the relevant facts and documentation to determine an appropriate response.

Private disputes involving blocked transactions and frozen assets can become more complicated once OFAC gets involved. While it may be prudent to apply for an OFAC license if a transaction has been blocked inappropriately or a company is entitled to a release of frozen assets, it is important to approach these types of situations strategically and with a specific and predetermined plan of action. If OFAC is already involved, it may make sense to pursue litigation in parallel to OFAC’s investigation. But it could also be prudent to await the outcome of any pending OFAC proceedings. Our lawyers can help you make informed decisions focused on protecting your company’s or financial institution’s interests as efficiently and cost-effectively as possible.

Put our highly experienced team on your side

Dr. Nick Oberheiden
Dr. Nick Oberheiden

Founder

Attorney-at-Law

Lynette S. Byrd
Lynette S. Byrd

Former DOJ Trial Attorney

Partner

Brian J. Kuester
Brian J. Kuester

Former U.S. Attorney

Amanda Marshall
Amanda Marshall

Former U.S. Attorney

Local Counsel

Joe Brown
Joe Brown

Former U.S. Attorney

Local Counsel

John W. Sellers
John W. Sellers

Former Senior DOJ Trial Attorney

Linda Julin McNamara
Linda Julin McNamara

Federal Appeals Attorney

Aaron L. Wiley
Aaron L. Wiley

Former DOJ attorney

Local Counsel

Roger Bach
Roger Bach

Former Special Agent (DOJ)

Chris Quick
Chris J. Quick

Former Special Agent (FBI & IRS-CI)

Michael S. Koslow
Michael S. Koslow

Former Supervisory Special Agent (DOD-OIG)

Ray Yuen
Ray Yuen

Former Supervisory Special Agent (FBI)

Important Considerations for Conducting OFAC-Related Internal Investigations and Case Reviews

As with all OFAC-related matters, time is of the essence when conducting internal investigations and case reviews. Our lawyers are available 24/7 on a nationwide basis. We can initiate your company’s or institution’s case review remotely, and we can make arrangements to be on the ground at your location as soon as possible if necessary.

Conducting an internal investigation or reviewing a dispute in anticipation of potential litigation requires a careful and comprehensive approach. Strict confidentiality is essential, and information should generally be available to company insiders on a need-to-know basis. Ensuring appropriate preservation of relevant documents and communications is critical as well, and it may be necessary to interview employees or examine their devices either with or without their knowledge.

Inquire about an OFAC Internal Investigation or Case Review

If you have questions about conducting an internal investigation or case review pertaining to the enforcement of OFAC sanctions or any other OFAC-related matter, we encourage you to contact us promptly. For a complimentary initial consultation with a senior OFAC compliance lawyer at Oberheiden P.C., call 866-755-0697 or tell us how we can help online today.

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