This document is largely based on OFAC’s own ““Filing a Petition for Removal From an OFAC List” page (found here).

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Delisting Guidance for Those Designated for Sanctions by the Department of State

The power and integrity of U.S. sanctions programs derive not only from the U.S. government’s ability to designate and add persons to sanctions lists but also from its willingness to remove persons from such lists consistent with the law.  The ultimate goal of sanctions is not to punish, but to bring about a positive change in behavior.  Each year, numerous persons are removed from the List of Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons (“SDN List”), and each removal decision is based on a thorough review.  Maintaining the integrity of U.S. sanctions is a high priority for the U.S. government and is the driving principle behind its rigorous review process that evaluates every request for removal individually on its merits and applies consistent standards to all of them.

This page provides information for those designated for sanctions by the Department of State, in consultation with the Department of the Treasury.  In most cases, individuals and entities (“persons”) designated for sanctions will be added to the SDN List.  While the Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (“OFAC”) publishes and administers the SDN List as part of its enforcement duties (click here for more information about and access to the SDN List), designation and delisting decisions are made by the appropriate U.S. government agency, as described in more detail below.

State as the Adjudicating Agency

Depending on the underlying authority used to designate a person for sanctions, different U.S. government agencies may have the lead in administering and adjudicating delisting requests (a.k.a., “Delisting Petitions,” “Requests for Removal,” or “Requests for Reconsideration”).  In those instances where the Department of State, in consultation with the Department of the Treasury, designated the person requesting delisting, the Department of State also will be the Adjudicating Agency.  Upon receiving such a delisting request, OFAC will assign a case number, acknowledge receipt, and send such requests to the Department of State to administer and adjudicate.  The Department of State will also send the petitioner an acknowledgement of receipt.

1. IF I’VE BEEN DESIGNATED UNDER A STATE DEPARTMENT AUTHORITY, HOW DO I FILE A REQUEST FOR REMOVAL FROM THE SDN LIST?

To request removal from the SDN List, the first step is to write to OFAC and request removal.  This begins the removal review process, even for those designated under State Department authorities.  (If an SDN sends a petition to State, State will first send the petition to OFAC to assign a case number.)  Send your written request to OFAC by email or postal mail.  OFAC cannot accept removal requests by telephone.

For faster delivery, email your petition to OFAC.Reconsideration@treasury.gov. Address hard copy petitions to:

Office of Foreign Assets Control
Office of the Director
U.S. Department of the Treasury
1500 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Washington, D.C.  20220

Requests should include:

  • The listed person’s name as well as contact person’s name and mailing address (including email address);
  • The date of the relevant listing action (such as the designation or identification), which may come from a Federal Register Notice or U.S. government Press Release; and
  • A request for the reconsideration of the Department of State’s determination, including a detailed description of why the listed person should be removed.

You may also submit additional information, such as arguments or evidence that establishes that an insufficient basis exists for the listing or that the circumstances resulting in the listing no longer apply.

Some examples of situations that may result in delisting include:  a positive change in behavior, the death of an SDN, the basis for the designation no longer exists, or the designation was based on mistaken identity.

2. DO I NEED TO HIRE AN ATTORNEY IN ORDER TO FILE A PETITION FOR REMOVAL?

No.  Petitions may be submitted directly from listed persons or from their representatives.

3. HOW WILL I KNOW IF OFAC RECEIVED MY EMAIL PETITION?

For petitions received via email, OFAC will email an acknowledgement of receipt generally within seven business days.  If you do not receive an acknowledgment email within 10 business days, you should email OFAC at OFAC.Reconsideration@treasury.gov and include the text of your original petition, and OFAC will respond as quickly as possible.  For mailed petitions, OFAC will respond usually within 15 business days.  If you provide an email address, OFAC will respond via email.  If the Department of State is the Adjudicating Agency, OFAC then sends the petition to State, which will in turn acknowledge receipt and begin adjudicating the request.

4. HOW LONG DOES THE ENTIRE PETITION PROCESS TAKE?

Each petition case is unique.  Petitioners must establish that delisting is appropriate, consistent with OFAC’s regulations (31 C.F.R. § 501.807).  If the Department of State requires additional information or clarification from the petitioner in order to evaluate the delisting request, it will send the petitioner one or more questionnaires.  If needed, the Department of State typically endeavors to send the first questionnaire within 90 days from the date the petition is assigned a case number by OFAC.  Because the Department of State often learns new information in response to a questionnaire, it is not uncommon for the Department of State to send one or more follow-up questionnaires and to engage in additional research to verify claims made by a petitioner.

Although each case is unique, the U.S. government applies the same standards to petition reviews across all sanctions programs.  Time for review depends upon a range of factors, including:  whether the Adjudicating Agency needs additional information, how timely and forthcoming the petitioner is in responding to the Adjudicating Agency’s requests, the specific facts of the case, and the need to engage in inter-agency consultation.  Incomplete answers to questionnaires or incomplete documentation often cause delays.

5. WHY DO LAWYERS REPRESENTING AN SDN REQUIRE OFAC AUTHORIZATION TO GET PAID?

OFAC authorization is required to engage in any transaction that otherwise would be prohibited.  U.S. persons are prohibited from engaging in transactions involving property and interests in property of persons on the SDN List.  In almost all of its sanctions programs, OFAC has issued general licenses (“GLs”) authorizing the provision of certain legal services to SDNs, including representation of SDNs in connection with delisting requests.  Receipt of payment for such services from sources outside of the United States is also authorized by GL in many programs and is routinely authorized by specific license in others.  Even if the person making the payment to the lawyer is not the SDN (such as a friend, family member, or other interested party), the lawyer must still be licensed to receive payment for acting on behalf of the SDN because the SDN has an interest in the services that the lawyer is providing.  If OFAC’s regulations for the specific program(s) under which a person was designated do not contain such a GL, the attorney must apply for a specific license from OFAC Licensing.

6. WHAT CAN YOU TELL ME ABOUT THE U.S. GOVERNMENT’S LISTING PROCESS?

In making a listing determination, the U.S. government draws on information from many sources, including but not limited to relevant United States government agencies, foreign governments, United Nations expert panels, and press and other open-source reporting.  Investigators then carry out a thorough investigation, including a review of the totality of the information.  The findings and conclusion of that investigation are then documented in a formal evidentiary memorandum that sets out the evidence supporting a determination that the person meets one or more of the criteria specified in the sanctions authority.  Before a final determination is made, proposed listing actions are subjected to review by or consultation with relevant U.S. agencies, which may include the Departments of the Treasury, Justice, State, and other U.S. agencies as warranted.

7.  IF MY PETITION FOR REMOVAL IS DENIED, CAN I REAPPLY?

Yes.  You may reapply using the same process as for the original petition.  If you present new arguments and evidence, the Adjudicating Agency may reach a different conclusion.  However, if you fail to present new arguments or evidence, and there has been no change in circumstances, the Adjudicating Agency will again deny your application.

8.  HOW CAN I OBTAIN AN UPDATE ON THE STATUS OF MY PETITION?

To obtain an update on your petition, email the Adjudicating Agency.  If OFAC is the Adjudicating Agency, the email address is OFAC.Reconsideration@treasury.gov.  If the Department of State is the Adjudicating Agency, the email address is sanctions_inbox@state.gov.

The Adjudicating Agencies strive to reply to all emails within two business days.

U.S. Department of State

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