Top 5 Keys to Removing a Name from the OFAC SDN List

I have seen a lot of misinformation being stated on the internet and elsewhere about removing one’s name from the OFAC SDN List. Therefore, I dedicate this post to providing some keys for those seeking removal of an SDN designation to follow.

Key #1: An OFAC SDN List removal is an administrative matter. It is not a criminal matter, nor is it necessarily a civil matter. That means in the vast majority of cases a U.S. federal court will never be involved in the removal process. The OFAC SDN List removal process takes place before the United States Department of Treasury Office of Foreign Assets Control. Therefore, a defensive mind state and approach will not work in addressing a removal matter.

Key #2: The burden of proof in an OFAC SDN List designation is the “Reasonable Cause to Believe” standard. In other words, if OFAC decides that they have a reason to believe you should be designated, they will designate you as an SDN. For example, if OFAC has some evidence to believe you are involved in narcotics trafficking they can designate you as an SDNTK (Specially Designated Narcotics Trafficking Kingpin). OFAC is not required to have sufficient evidence to be convinced beyond a reasonable doubt that you are involved in certain activities which would allow for designation, nor do they need to be convinced that more likely than not you are involved in certain activities that allow for designation. If they have any reason to believe you are involved in such activity, you can and will be designated as an SDN.

Key #3: Move quickly. While its true that it takes time to gather the appropriate information and documents to present a proper Request for Reconsideration, submit your request as soon as you can. There are certain ways to expedite the process. An attorney who has previously represented SDNs in the OFAC SDN List removal process will know how to go about doing this.

Key #4: Provide the right information the first time. In reviewing the request for reconsideration OFAC is looking for certain information. For example, OFAC is looking for information on shared accounts with other SDNs, travel to the United States, and personal identifying information. Again, an attorney who has been through the OFAC SDN List removal process will know what information to provide the first time. This will greatly expedite the removal process.

Key #5: Be patient. Let me apologize upfront: If you are on the SDN List and you are not already contesting your designation, you are going to be on the OFAC SDN List for a while. This is just the nature of the removal process. OFAC does not move quickly and you’ll often wait up to 6-9 months before even hearing back from them regarding your initial request. OFAC will generally ask for additional information several times over the course of the process. Each time you provide this information, you will once again wait for months to hear back from them. There are certain ways to expedite the process, however, it still takes some time. The OFAC SDN List removal process can take years, therefore, if you have been wrongly designated you need to move today to start contesting your SDN designation.

The author of this blog is Erich Ferrari, an attorney specializing in OFAC matters. If you have any questions please contact him at 202-280-6370 or

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