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US Government Sanctions and the 2016 OFAC Conference

This week I had a chance to meet face-to-face with government regulators from the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) in Washington DC at their annual conference.

OFAC is self-described as "an agency within the U.S. Department of the Treasury that administers and enforces economic and trade sanctions based on U.S. foreign policy and national security goals against targeted foreign countries, terrorists, international narcotics traffickers, and those engaged in activities related to the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. The OFAC acts under Presidential wartime and national emergency powers, as well as authority granted by specific legislation, to impose controls on transactions and freeze foreign assets under U.S. jurisdiction."

At its conference, OFAC shared updates on its sanctions programs, including licensing and financial transactions related issues, primarily focusing on

1) Iran and the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA)

2) Business and travel in Cuba, and

3) General compliance and enforcement issues.

While not surprising, many in attendance were curious to know about potential changes to the sanctions programs in relation to the incoming administration, however, no updates -speculative or known - were provided. With only 3 weeks until the new year, we will know soon enough!

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