The Long Arm Of OFAC: Secondary Sanctions, Facilitations

Posted in Anti-Money Laundering (AML) on February 23, 2024

In this article we are going to talk about OFAC; secondary sanctions, facilitation and causing a violation. There is no doubt that these sanctions are crucial for the smooth running of business and financial activities. Let us dig into more detail about how these laws and sanctions work and what are their effects on various financial institutions and businesses.

Table of Contents

Key Elements

  • Sanctions may be a little complex as a law but by nature, they are also tangled into a number of dos and don’ts.
  • There are many rules and regulations that need to be followed by OFAC to make sure that the jurisdiction is running smoothly.
  • The parties involved in sanctions may often become desperate in order to find ways that will help them get rid of prohibitions.
  • The rule of thumb shall be followed when it comes to OFAC and sanctions. This is for the benefit of all entities to make sure that things are running smoothly and are under the control of authorities. This ensures a smooth running of the business in the economy.

Secondary Sanctions

OFAC is defined as a U.S. Person who is a permanent resident alien, an entity that is organized under the laws that are passed by the United States or any other jurisdiction that falls under the U.S. This also includes foreign branches or any individual person who is living in the United States. It is an important law that also helps in detecting money laundering red flags.

When it comes to OFAC, it is obvious that they will not hesitate while bringing actions and enforce them against the cases of first impression and against the conduct that it considers as a violation to the authenticity of the sanctions program. There may be firms that are operating under the impression that the conduct they are following is lawful only to later find out that OFAC disagrees with this interpretation. This eventually causes the company to make sure that they are staying clear of the OFAC areas so that the company may continue to pursue its business as it would normally.


OFAC is a strong sanctions program as it makes sure to push the limits of jurisdiction on a regular basis. When it comes to OFAC, they make sure to push their limits and test the boundaries of each and every word in the statutes’ definitions. More confusion can be caused when you come to know that this law is not even fleshed out properly. This means that OFAC will not hesitate even for a moment while bringing out law enforcements against cases of first impression and against activities that OFAC believes are violation the essence of this sanctions program in any way possible.

Moreover, the violations of facilitation are yet another avenue for the OFAC to make sure that they are pursuing the enforcement in an effective manner. There are U.S. Persons that might choose not to facilitate the violations of sanctions. This means that an organization may not support a transaction indirectly that they are not authorized to conduct in a direct way.

Ofac 2

Causing a Violation

Here is an example that will explain everything in detail related to facilitations of the OFAC. It is utilizing a foreign subsidiary to enable you to engage with the sanctioned party directly. This happens while the parent from the U.S. is making sure to supply the materials that are needed for the subsidiary.

This type of content is also called the heart of the Schlumberger Oilfield enforcement action. OFAC worked their way to determine that expense reports related to business in Sudan and Iran were approved while making sure that the extent of facilitation was also reached. This would eventually invoke diligence that is enhanced due and KYC controls as well.

Moreover, OFAC can also chase the U.S. Persons that are causing violations of the sanctions. They have been using this strategy to enforce actions against organizations that are not from the U.S. and they have managed to do so successfully. An organization or firm may still be liable for the violation of the other even though they haven’t caused the violation themselves. This is because of misrepresentation, obfuscation, and more.


From the above discussion we can conclude that OFAC is making sure to look at potential risks that involve enforcement and they are keeping a sharp eye out to do so. Because of this, many sanctioned parties may try desperately to stay clear of the way of these risks and restrictions. But it is not possible to work with an organization that is non-sanctioned. Especially when you know that the respective organization is there to benefit those standards financially. A detailed course of action shall be taken into consideration to make sure that things are running smoothly when it comes to OFAC, Facilitations, Secondary Sanctions and the consequences of Causing a Violation.