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Yes. The US uses both comprehensive and targeted economic sanctions against terrorists, international narcotics traffickers, those engaged in activities related to the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, human rights abuses, and other threats to US national security, its foreign policy or its economy. US sanctions can be directed at:
The sanctions programs are based on US foreign policy and national security goals and can be either comprehensive (in that they prohibit transactions with an entire country or region) or targeted towards certain individuals, government officials or industries within those countries.
The US’s use of sanctions has had a significant impact on the global financial regulatory environment, particularly in the wake of the passage of the Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act of 2001 (the “Patriot Act”), enacted after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Due to the need for the US to limit the financing of terrorist cells, the Patriot Act granted, among other things, the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (“FinCEN”) powers to designate foreign jurisdictions and financial institutions of “primary money laundering concern” and subject them to “special measures”, effectively cutting them off from the US financial system (Section 311 of the Patriot Act).
Yes. If the UNSC mandates a sanction against an entity, the US President will issue an Executive Order implementing the sanction domestically.
Yes. The US prevents US persons, US businesses, and their foreign branches from transacting with any entity listed.
In addition to foreign branches of US based businesses, foreign entities who are in possession of US-origin goods must also comply (in the case of certain regimes), which covers financial institutions that make USD transactions (such as European-based banks). These extraterritorial sanctions are considered controversial.
Sanctions can originate from the President via Executive Orders or Congress through the enactment of federal laws. Executive Orders are issued pursuant to wartime powers governing a “national emergency” in response to an “unusual or extraordinary threat”.
Yes. The US Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (“OFAC”) maintains and amends a number of lists, including:
These entities can be found and searched on OFAC’s website at: https://sdnsearch.ofac.treas.gov/
There are other lists maintained by various US regulators, including but not limited to:
Yes. Both OFAC and BIS maintain a system through which individuals and entities can apply for a license and request authorisation to transact with sanctioned entities.
There are various sanctions programs, each with potentially differing application triggers. The issuing of a licence only occurs under certain limited circumstances. Applications for a licence are assessed on a case-by-case basis and, depending on the sanctions program or interest, can be denied.
Violations of US sanctions can incur civil and/or criminal penalties, depending on the sanctions program implicated.
Enforcement actions and corresponding penalties are on the rise, as are enforcement actions involving multiple enforcement agencies. Most significantly, BNP Paribas was fined US$8.9 billion in 2014 by multiple US federal and state agencies for processing billions of dollars for sanctioned countries. Voluntary self-disclosure of a violation is considered a mitigating factor in deciding a civil penalty amount.
The US Treasury Department
Office of Foreign Assets Control
1500 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington DC 20220
T: (+1) 800 540 6322
Financial Crimes Enforcement Network
1500 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington DC 20220
T: (+1) 800 767 2825
The Bureau of Industry and Security (Export Control)
Outreach and Educational Services Division (located in Washington, DC)
T: (+1) 202 482 4811
(Western Regional Office (located in Newport Beach, CA)
T: (+1) 949 660 0144
Northern California branch (located in San Jose, CA)
T: (+1) 408 998 8806
US Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington DC 20530-0001
T: (+1) 202 514 2000
T: (+1) 888 851 1920
www.federalreserve.gov/branches.htm (12 branches)
New York Department of Financial Services
1 State Street
T: (+1) 518 474 2994
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