Our Voices

Have you been wrongly identified by the US Government on a Sanctions List?

Last week, the US Office of Foreign Assets Control (“OFAC”) made news in associating and publishing bitcoin addresses with sanctioned individuals in Iran.  One of the individuals whose digital currency address was published in this latest update, Mohammad Ghobaniyan, claims in an interview released today, to be an innocent player with no knowledge of the criminal activities of the individuals for whom he exchanged bitcoin into local currency.  This listing has had immediate, adverse effects on him:  his email accounts have been suspended and his bitcoin exchange business is at risk.  He has complained about the lack of transparency about the process, and is apparently liaising with the Iranian police about it.


But what can Mr. Ghobaniyan do to clear his name with the US?  What can someone who believes that he or she should not be listed on an OFAC sanction list do?


OFAC has a formal process to review requests from individuals who believe they have been wrongly listed (and are suffering the consequences of wrongful listing).  OFAC suggests sending the request to OFAC.Reconsideration@treasury.gov, but this will be difficult for individuals like Mr. Ghobaniyan, whose email accounts have been shut down as a result of wrongful listing.  Aside from that, a request must include the individual’s name and a contact person’s name (for example, a lawyer or other representative hired to assist); the date of the OFAC listing; and the request to take the individual off the sanctions list, explaining how the request meets the published guidelines at 31 CFR 501.807. 


You do not need an attorney to file for de-listing; but it can help.  An experienced OFAC attorney can ensure that you marshal your best evidence and make your best case under applicable law. Moreover, in order to identify additional individuals or entities to sanction, or additional assets of already sanctioned individuals and entities, OFAC may require substantial cooperation from the individual as a condition for de-listing.  An attorney is critical to navigate this cooperation process.


Prepare for a long process, however.  In most cases, an attorney will need to apply for and be granted a license before they are able to represent a listed individual or entity.  In addition, OFAC does not promise any timeline within which it will consider and respond to these requests. 


At CKR Law, we have a team of seasoned attorneys with decades of experience representing companies and individuals in government investigations, including matters before OFAC.  If you think you have been wrongly listed, or for more information, reach out to your contact at CKR Law or either of the of the attorneys listed below.


For more information please contact:

Jill M. Williamson                             jwilliamson@ckrlaw.com

Kristie M. Blase                                 kblase@ckrlaw.com