U.S. companies involved in international trade should be aware of a new rule published today by the U.S Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC). OFAC administers the sanctions programs prohibiting U.S. persons from engaging in trade with various countries (e.g., Iraq, Iran, Sudan, Libya and Cuba) and individuals (e.g., named terrorists and drug traffickers).
Today, OFAC announced a final rule providing that it will routinely, either on a weekly or monthly basis, publish the identities of entities involved in civil penalty actions under U.S. trade sanctions laws. On its website, OFAC will release the names of entities against which penalties have been imposed for violations of the trade sanctions laws. OFAC will also identify entities that have voluntarily disclosed their activities to OFAC and those with whom OFAC has reached a settlement, even where no violation has been found.
OFAC rejected comments filed by several parties who argued that releasing these identities would harm the reputations of the companies involved, particularly because violations may occur inadvertently. OFAC answered this complaint by stating that its releases will briefly describe each incident to distinguish between penalties and settlements and to identify those that voluntarily disclosed the matter. OFAC will release information on proceedings against individuals only on an aggregate basis, although there is some indication OFAC may consider publishing individual names in the future.
Under the new rule, OFAC intends to release information on all penalties imposed and settlements reached since the end of March 2002. Its first publication will be made on April 4, 2003.