Finally, an OFAC SDN Search Tool!

As you hopefully know, OFAC and other U.S. government agencies have lists of  “blocked” parties.  U.S. people and businesses are prohibited from doing most activities with the entities on these lists.  In particular, OFAC has a list entitled the Specially Designated Nationals (SDN) list.  This list includes individuals, governments, organizations, and businesses, that OFAC prohibits U.S. persons from transacting with or dealing in/with related property.  OFAC prohibits  the activities through any one of one of its 21 sanction programs meant to enforce economic sanctions and further foreign policy and national security objectives.  Depending on the program, entities can be added to the SDN list for varied reasons such as oppressive treatment of citizens by government regimes, violence, nuclear proliferation, and human rights abuses.

If you export or do business in a country with a sanctions program, you are required to review the SDN list as part of your export compliance.  If you do this screening, you know that the SDN list is a LONG list.  It can also be an unwieldy list.  Many parties have multiple names, addresses, and even aliases.  OFAC publishes the list in different formats, for example by sanction program or country or alphabetically, but it can still be difficult to feel comfortable that you have done your due diligence and properly reviewed the list.  Mistakes are not an option and negligence is not an excuse.  [Now here comes the gift from OFAC.]

On December 7th, OFAC released a new SDN search tool, aptly named SDN Search, that allows you to search the SDN list using several different criteria.  [Find SDN Search here ].  Results can be saved as a spreadsheet or printed and lists names, alternate names, addresses, type of party and the applicable sanction program related to the entity. What you want to do and what every exporter should do as part of its compliance program is run a search and save the spreadsheet or print out in their records.

While this is truly a very useful gift when you are investigating the ability do business with a particular entity in a OFAC sanctioned country, such a search will not protect you from Bureau of Industry and Security’s (Department of Commerce) general export requirement that you must screen all exports against the Entity List found in part 744 of the Export Administration Regulations (EAR).  To make things more complicated, these aren’t even the only government lists out there.  There are actually around 50 government lists (including the two already mentioned)  of restricted parties ranging from wanted persons to debarred parties.  Luckily, software is available that allows you to screen all the restricted parties lists at once.

Of course OFAC gets kudos for providing a search tool.  It is a small step towards the larger goal of easing the exporter’s due diligence burden.  Until Commerce, State and Treasury can accomplish their goal of complete export compliance reform we have to be very happy about each small step.  Happy screening!