OFAC Sanctions Lawyer - Securities Litigation & Compliance Services
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OFAC Sanctions Lawyer

Highly Experienced Attorneys Representing the Interests of Clients Facing All Types of OFAC Sanctions

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

The Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) is a division of the U.S. Treasury tasked with implementing and enforcing a wide range of economic and trade sanctions. The scope of OFAC regulation is broad, however, at its core, OFAC focuses its efforts on protecting the economic, foreign policy and national security interests of all U.S. citizens. However, OFAC sanctions can literally cripple a business. Thus, it is imperative that any individual or organization subject to OFAC oversight commands a comprehensive understanding not only of the regulations, but also what sanctions a failure to comply can bring about. At Oberheiden, P.C., we’ve assembled a dedicated team of OFAC lawyers. We routinely consult with management teams and other stake holders regarding OFAC sanctions, how they can be avoided, and what can be done to reverse them.

Who Does OFAC Regulate?

The Office of Foreign Assets Control is a U.S.-based agency. Thus, all U.S. citizens, in theory, are subject to OFAC regulations. However, most individuals do not engage in activity that raises the government’s concerns. However, OFAC’s mandate also includes overseeing the following parties:

  • U.S. permanent residents;
  • Any entity organized under U.S. laws;
  • Any entity or individual located on U.S. soil;
  • Foreign entities owned or operated by U.S. citizens.

Thus, OFAC does not “regulate” individuals, groups, or organizations in foreign countries unless they fit into one of the above categories. Instead, OFAC regulates those who do business with these foreign entities.

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)

Types of OFAC Sanctions

The U.S. Treasury, through OFAC, has a wide range of sanctions available to accomplish its goals. Economic sanctions are the most frequently used in terms of businesses operating in the United States. OFAC economic sanctions can target parties who do business with certain countries, individuals or groups.

OFAC Country-Based Sanctions

Country-based sanctions are those that apply broadly to any entity who conduct business with a country that OFAC designates as a potential threat to U.S interest. Unfortunately, OFAC does not maintain a list of all countries on the sanction list because these sanctions vary in purpose and scope. However, the current list of countries that have some type of sanction include:

  • Burma (Myanmar)
  • Cuba
  • Iran
  • Libya
  • North Korea
  • Russia
  • Somalia
  • South Sudan
  • Sudan
  • Syria
  • Ukraine
  • Venezuela
  • Zimbabwe

Any entity that conducts business in these countries or provides support their citizens may run afoul of U.S sanctions against these countries. While not all dealings are strictly prohibited, it is crucial for any business operating in these countries to develop a strict OFAC compliance program to mitigate any potential violations. A well-structured and followed OFAC compliance program can also indicate an organizations commitment to compliance, which can result in more favorable outcomes in the event of an official investigation.

OFAC’s List-Based Sanctions

In addition to broad country-based sanctions, OFAC more recently started using more target sanctions. These “smart sanctions” came to be, in part, due to the fact that “[m]any individuals and entities often move internationally and end up in locations where they would be least expected.” OFAC maintains a Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons List (SDN list). Currently, there are more than 6,300 names on the SDN list. OFAC periodically updates the SDN list, which can be searched by and individual’s name or their country of origin.

All assets owned by a person on the SDN list are blocked and any entity owned by a person on the SDN list will have its assets frozen. OFAC considers an entity is owned if the person on the SDN list has a direct or indirect ownership interest of 50% or more. Moreover, once someone is on the SDN list, U.S. citizens and businesses are prohibited from dealing with them.

However, being added to the SDN list is not necessarily final. According to U.S. Treasury, “The power and integrity of the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) sanctions derive not only from its ability to designate and add persons to the Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons List (SDN List), but also from its willingness to remove persons from the SDN List consistent with the law.”

At Oberheiden, P.C., our OFAC sanctions lawyers not only help U.S.-based entities avoid potential violations but also assist in the SDN-designation removal process.

Penalties for OFAC Sanction Violations

Given that OFAC’s mandate is to protect the United States from foreign threats, some of which are very serious, the penalties for violating an OFAC sanction are severe. Penalties can be civil or criminal in nature, and may be brought against the violating entity as well as the specific individuals who committed the violation. Typically, each prohibited transaction constitutes a violation. Thus, it is common for a single errant policy to result in dozens of violations—if not more. For example, civil penalties can range from several thousand to millions of dollars, depending on the type and number of violations. Some of the most extreme penalties pertain to the Trading with the Enemy Act ($91,816 per violation), International Emergency Economic Powers Acts (up to $311,562 per violation) and the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act ($1.5 million per violation).

In terms of criminal liability for breaching an OFAC sanction, a conviction can carry up to a 20-year period of incarceration and a fine of up to $1,000,000.

Frequently Asked Questions:

What should I look for in an OFAC sanctions lawyer?

 

Any time you are dealing with issues as complex as OFAC regulations, it is imperative that you seek out an attorney who has extensive experience handling the specific type of issue you face. Given the fact that OFAC oversees a very specific group of individuals and organizations, many lawyers will go their entire career without ever handling an OFAC sanctions cases. However, at Oberheiden, P.C., we have a team of lawyers, each of which has specific, hands-on experience working with clients through all aspects of the OFAC sanctions and appeals process.

OFAC denied my petition for removal from the SDN list, can I resubmit it?

 

Yes, OFAC tries to be fair when determining which people on the SDN list should not be on the list. Along those lines, OFAC has developed a comprehensive review process through which parties on the SDN list can ask to be removed. To successfully be removed, the burden is on you to explain why removal is justified. However, if you file a request for removal from an OFAC list and are denied, you can apply again. Upon refiling your petition, you should include additional information or evidence that may sway the reviewer’s determination; otherwise, OFAC will deny your petition. At Oberheiden, P.C., we have extensive experience working with listed individuals. Often, we are able to secure the removal of our client from the SDN list. Even when removal is not a possibility, we can help pave a path towards removal in the future.


Contact a Respected OFAC Sanctions Lawyer

OFAC sanctions are notoriously complex. Yet, the consequences of even an inadvertent violation can be severe. At Oberheiden, P.C., our OFAC sanctions lawyers have exceptional experience helping individuals and organizations navigate OFAC regulations to ensure they remain in compliance with all applicable regulations. When you reach out to Oberheiden, P.C., we will immediately put you in touch with a highly experienced OFAC lawyer who will remain assigned to your case until it is resolved. We don’t use paralegals or junior associates, and you’ll have access to your attorney 24/7. To learn more, and to schedule a free consultation with an OFAC attorney with Oberheiden, P.C., give us a call at 866-755-0697. You can also reach us by completing our online form, and one of our attorneys will be in touch with you shortly.

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