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OFAC SDN List Removal Lawyer

Call us or message us through any contact form on our website if you would like a free consultation with an OFAC Sanctions List Removal Lawyer. We travel to meet our clients and work through the Petition for Removal process with them directly. 

An OFAC SDN List Removal Lawyer may be advisable if you are placed on OFAC’s Specially Designated Nationals (SDN) List. Removal from the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) SDN List is not a simple or easy process and SDN List Removal Attorney Mohsen Zarkesh who is up to date and specializes in OFAC Sanctions List removal may best represent your interests in this critical process.

For most individuals and companies, the consequence of being identified as an SDN is severe and devastating. Persons engaging in international trade or who have financial ties with international entities, especially international banks, are most at risk of losing access to their personal or business properties and monies. Businesses from various industries may soon deny you a broad range of services, move to close your accounts, and seek to block and freeze your property or funds that they have in their possession.


Filing a Request for Administrative Reconsideration is typically the first step in starting the removal process with OFAC. This request is also called a Petition for Removal and it is likely the most significant filing you will provide to OFAC in your case. The petition may include background facts, legal and policy arguments, and calculated analysis on why the designated individual or company should be removed from the SDN List.

After submitting this petition, OFAC may submit to you or your company a follow-up questionnaire. Whether they do this or not depends on the information they possess relevant to the information and arguments you put in your petition.

Unfortunately, OFAC’s response time to the petition for removal is not fast. OFAC may take 6-30 months to respond to any petition or request related to your removal from the SDN List.


There are several arguments that one can use to greatly increase the chances of removal from the SDN List. You can argue that the allegations and designation is a case of mistaken identity. You can also argue that there has been a sufficient change in circumstances from OFAC’s claims against you place you on the SDN List. The legal principle behind both of these arguments is the negation of OFAC’s legal reasoning and factual basis for placing you on the SDN List.

The mistaken identity argument should demonstrate that OFAC has incorrectly identified you or your company where such information would sufficiently negate the basis for your designation.

For example, if OFAC alleges that you own or control a futbol team involved in money laundering and drug trafficking, and you are able to provide satisfactory information to show that you in fact did not have ownership or control over the futbol team, then you may be removed from the SDN List. Please note that successfully arguing this does not start and end with simply asserting that OFAC has made a mistake. You or your company needs to have satisfactory accompanying documentation and evidence that the allegations OFAC has made underlying the reason you were placed on the SDN List is incorrect.

A change in circumstance argument may show that you or your company no longer engages in the activities that you were sanctioned for previously. One can show this by substantiating a lack of ability to further engage in such activity and that you do not intend to continue to engage in the activity that OFAC used to place you on the SDN List. The addition of compliance policies, removal of corporate officers engaged in the activity, or corporate restructuring may further advance your change of circumstances argument.

For example, if OFAC alleges that you own or control a futbol team that engaged in money laundering and drug trafficking, you may show that the futbol team entity has dissolved and is not in business anymore. You may resign from the futbol team or institute policies that would prevent the illicit activity from continuing to take place in the futbol team’s corporate organization. You may divest from any investments or financial accounts that were involved in the matters that concern OFAC. You may also hold those who engaged in the activities responsible and dismiss them from their positions. Some or a combination of these changes may substantially increase the chance that your change in circumstances argument is successful in removing you or your futbol team from the SDN List. Most important for your Petition for Removal is accurately explaining and providing necessary documenting demonstrating the changes that were made that would decrease concern that you or your company would continue to engage in the activity in the future.


You and your SDN List Removal Attorney may want to review the evidence OFAC is using against you prior to or during the removal process. The general premise behind your designation is typically found in OFAC’s press release. Additionally, you may submit a Request for Administrative Record to OFAC to obtain the evidentiary memorandum and the attached exhibits that allowed for OFAC to place you on the SDN List. This record may be partially classified but OFAC at the minimum should release the unclassified portions to you and your attorney.

The Request for Administrative Record has its own rules, regulations, timeline, and process and it is important to submit this petition in a manner that allows for the greatest chance of obtaining as much of the record as possible. OFAC is again unfortunately slow in this process and it may take months to obtain this record. How you decide to move forward and include the relevant information from the record in your Petition for Removal is up to you, your lawyer, and the strategy you wish to take for removal from the SDN List.


Although OFAC does not require you to have a lawyer or attorney to submit a Request for Administrative Reconsideration, it may be advisable to hire a lawyer who sufficiently understands OFAC sanctions as well as SDN List Removal. Hiring OFAC List Removal Lawyer Mohsen Zarkesh and the OFAC Sanctions Lawyers – Zarkesh Law Firm, P.C. which has experience with these matters, understands the unique characteristics of U.S. sanctions, and has experience in dealing with OFAC can help in furthering your goal of removal from the SDN List.


Whether you have already submitted a petition to OFAC for removal from the OFAC SDN List or have yet to do so, SDN List Removal Lawyer Mohsen Zarkesh can help advise you or your company on what may be advisable to include or add in the petition, the specific arguments that should be made, and the recommended changes that would increase the likelihood of removal from the list.

Skilled OFAC lawyer Mohsen Zarkesh will sit down with you and understand all the relevant facts of your case. After explaining to you all of your options, they will initiate a customized legal strategy that best fits you and your company but that would also increase the likelihood of success in being removed from the list. SDN List Removal Lawyer Mohsen Zarkesh will work with you to submit a comprehensive Petition for Removal with all the necessary facts and arguments.


What is the SDN List?

The Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Person List (SDN List) is a list of individuals, organizations, companies, who the US government has determined to have acted against U.S. national security interests, foreign policy objectives, and more specifically U.S sanctions laws. The SDN List also includes aircrafts and vessels which the US has determined to be owned or controlled by SDNs.

What does it mean to be on OFAC’s SDN List?

U.S. persons and entities are prohibited from dealing with individuals, organizations, companies who are on the SDN List. Even if the SDN does not directly deal with American persons or companies, many non-U.S. persons and entities will refuse to deal and provide services to SDNs due to the expansive reach of U.S. jurisdiction in the international marketplace.

Where can I see OFAC’s SDN List?

The SDN List can be found on OFAC’s page. OFAC has provided various formats to review the SDN List including this PDF, this Text, this ZIP, and numerous other formats on this page.

OFAC also has a Sanctions List Search page where you can search and find all persons currently on the SDN List.

Can you work with a person or company on the OFAC SDN List?

U.S. persons and entities are broadly prohibited from working with SDN persons. Non-U.S. persons may suffer the same fate as the SDN by being placed on the SDN list for working with and providing services to SDNs. As a non-U.S. person or company, it is important to review the relevant laws and regulations, with adequate legal expertise, to identify the risk factors in working with an SDN prior to dealing with the SDN person.

U.S. lawyers are provided certain exemptions in providing legal services to SDN persons. It is important to review the conditions that authorize the provision of legal services to SDNs prior to providing any services to an SDN. An OFAC Sanctions Lawyer or SDN List Removal Lawyer can help determine what services you can provide to an SDN as a lawyer. An OFAC List Lawyer can also help determine the possible risks and complications in dealing with an SDN or blocked person.

How do I know if I am on OFAC’s SDN List?

The first step would be to conduct a diligent search of OFAC’s SDN list. If you have a reason to believe that you are on the OFAC SDN List and you cannot locate your information on a OFAC List then a public source search with your name (attempt various spellings of all variations of your name) and “OFAC” may help. It is unlikely that you are on the SDN List if you cannot find any information about your designation on the SDN list, public sources, and you were never notified by any person, entity, government agency, and organization that you are on the SDN list.

If you are a U.S. person living in the United States and a company or financial institution makes an obscure claim that you are on an OFAC list, and this is breaking news to you, you are almost certainly not on an OFAC List or the SDN List. This is more likely than not to be a result of mistaken identity and a false-positive match to another person on the SDN List who you have no relation with other than a similarity in legal names.

How do I know if a person or company is actually on the OFAC SDN List?

Finding a person or entity on OFAC’s SDN List where several identifiers (name, city, country, address, nationality, passport number, date of birth) match then it is likely you have a “hit” and you have identified a person or entity on this list.

OFAC has provided a step by step on assessing an OFAC match. In summary, isolated instances of similarities between your potential match and a person or entity on the SDN List are likely not a match. But the similarities may warrant further investigation to identify whether you have a valid match to a person or entity on an OFAC List.

What if an SDN has a partial interest or owns part of a company?

Anytime an SDN individual or entity has any interest in a company, the possibility of complications substantially increases. If you are conducting due diligence to determine an SDN’s interest in a company, it is important to properly assess their ownership stake and direct or indirect control over the entity. Companies may err on the side of caution in these instances and subsequently refuse to do business with a company strongly associated with an SDN person or entity. OFAC itself states that these persons may be subject to being later placed on the SDN List. The actual legal rule that applies in this instance is OFAC’s 50% rule.

What is OFAC’s 50% rule regarding blocked persons and property?

Property owned directly or indirectly, by a blocked person as an individual or aggregate of blocked persons of a 50 percent or greater interest are considered blocked persons by OFAC. What this practically means is that property which is not expressly listed on an OFAC List may be considered blocked if the ownership interest of the property is 50 percent or more owned or controlled by a blocked person.

For example, Company A may not be expressly listed on the SDN List but if Person 1 and Person 2, who are both on the SDN List, own a 50% or greater ownership interest in Company A, then OFAC provides that Company A is also considered a blocked person and all of Company A’s property should be blocked by U.S. persons.

You can find OFAC guidance on the 50 percent rule in this OFAC guidance document and in OFAC’s FAQ’s #398402.

Who decides who is placed on the SDN List?

Broadly, the U.S. government decides who is placed on the SDN List but since US sanctions are administered by the Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Asset Control, OFAC tends to make the recommendations on who should be placed on the SDN List. This is done in consultation with numerous executive branch government agencies like the US State Department, Department of Justice, Department of Commerce, and Federal Bureau of Investigations.

OFAC states that when they place a person on the SDN List they have the proper regulatory and executive authority to do so. OFAC typically references this authority in the accompanying press release for their designations. Additionally, the exact sanctions program used to designate or place someone on an OFAC list can be found in their list entry through their Program Tag. For example, a person designated on an OFAC Sanctions List pursuant to the South Sudan Sanctions Regulations will have the [South Sudan] program tag in their sanctions list entry.

Could I have been mistakenly placed on the SDN List?

Yes. Instances have occurred where a party placed on the SDN List is in fact mistakenly there due to being misidentified. A designation may occur due to mistaken identity for various reasons including faulty intelligence or false reporting. Additionally, parties have been misidentified on the SDN List due to various aliases used by actual SDN persons.

Can I travel safely if I am on the OFAC SDN List?

It really depends where you are travelling to and from, which sanctions program you were designated under, whether you are a target of a criminal action by the U.S., international agency like Interpol, and whether the U.S. has an extradition treaty with the country you are destined to arrive in and transit through. Travel to the U.S. clearly represents a grave risk to an SDN person and would likely result in immediate detention. A consultation with an OFAC Sanction List Lawyer may help assess the risk of travel for an SDN person.

Will I appear before a judge for OFAC SDN List Removal?

The recommended first step for removal from the SDN (Specially Designated National) List does not involve criminal or civil proceedings. Since it is an administrative matter, adjudication occurs on the agency level at the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC). After you have submitted your petition for removal, OFAC may respond with a questionnaire. Once OFAC receives your responses to the questionnaire, the OFAC enforcement officer assigned to your case will compare your answers with the evidence compiled on the record before deciding on the requested SDN List removal. Petitioners can file a lawsuit challenging their designation either instead of petitioning OFAC through the administrative process or after having been denied their request for removal from OFAC’s SDN List.

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How long does it take to be removed from OFAC’s SDN List?

The process of getting removed from the SDN list is a long and strenuous process that requires a great deal of patience. Submission of your petition for removal is followed by a long wait period spanning from 6-30 months. Although there have been exceptional cases that we have discussed in this blog post.

Expediting the process requires that you take imminent action – that is, if you have not already. We suggest that you work diligently in providing your OFAC lawyers with all the necessary paperwork and information that is requested of you.

What is the legal standard of proof required for OFAC to sanction and put someone on the SDN List?

U.S. law does not require OFAC to have sufficient evidence that is convincing “beyond a reasonable doubt” that an individual is involved in sanctionable and malign activity. OFAC holds a “reasonable cause to believe” standard as the burden of proof for SDN List designations. Meaning if there exists a reason to believe that an individual or entity is involved in malign activity considered sanctionable by OFAC regulations, then OFAC may designate you.

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