New FAQs Provide Little Clarity on Expanded OFAC Reporting Obligations for Non-Financial Institutions
March 2, 2020
In June of 2019, OFAC amended its Reporting, Procedures and Penalties Regulations (RPPR), apparently effecting a radical expansion of the obligation of non-financial institutions in the U.S. to report “rejected” transactions involving U.S.-sanctioned persons.
OFAC has long required financial institutions to report rejected financial transactions involving sanctioned persons. (“Rejected” transactions involve persons who are not Specially Designated Nationals (SDNs) or other persons whose property within U.S. jurisdiction is blocked, but with whom transactions are nevertheless prohibited, such as private individuals and companies resident in Iran and not explicitly designated for sanctions. U.S. persons may not execute these transactions but are not required to block and report any related assets that come within their control; to take the historical example of funds transfers, the payment is returned to the sender rather than being frozen in a blocked account.) The amended reporting guidelines expanded that obligation from financial institutions to all U.S. persons and persons within the United States, defined the relevant transactions to include “transactions related to wire transfers, trade finance, securities, checks, foreign exchange, and goods or services,” and (as before) did not define “reject” at all. If any person subject to U.S. jurisdiction does reject a transaction for goods or services (financial or otherwise) for sanctions reasons, it is now legally required to report that rejection within ten days.
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