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What are OFAC counter-terrorism sanctions?

One of the primary goals of the Office of Foreign Assets Control is to prevent funding of terrorist activities, whether inadvertent or intentional. To this end, several executive orders from the President of the United States have created sanctions against doing business with individuals and entities suspected of being involved in terrorism.

These counter-terrorism sanctions from OFAC apply to every U.S.-incorporated company, non-profit group (NGO), and government agency; as well as each American citizen or permanent resident.  Regardless of wherever they are located at a given time, all of those entities must practice OFAC compliance.

In most cases, complying with the OFAC sanctions means blocking funds or refusing transactions with listed names. Organizations can apply for licenses from the U.S. government that will allow certain exceptions to the rule for specific routine payments, legal representation or charitable activities, mostly involving the Palestine Authority; in these cases, U.S.-based entities can avoid civil or criminal liability. Parties can also apply for the release of blocked wire transfer funds.