OFAC Sanctions Compliance – I understand blocking a transaction, but what is meant by rejecting a transaction? When should a transaction be rejected rather than blocked?

Compliance > OFAC
Q:  I understand blocking a transaction, but what is meant by rejecting a transaction? When should a transaction be rejected rather than blocked?
 
A:   In some cases, an underlying transaction may be prohibited, but there is no blockable interest in the transaction. In these cases, the transaction is simply rejected, or not processed. For example, a U.S. bank would have to reject a wire transfer between two third-country companies (non-SDNs) involving an export to a company in Sudan that is not subject to sanctions. Since there is no interest of the Government of Sudan or an SDN, there is no blockable interest in the funds. The U.S. bank cannot process the transaction because that would constitute a transaction in support of a commercial activity in Sudan, which is prohibited by the Sudanese Sanctions Regulations. Similarly, a U.S. bank could not be involved in the financing of a prohibited transaction. A U.S. bank cannot so much as advise a letter of credit if the underlying transaction is in violation of OFAC regulations.
 
The following examples may help illustrate which transactions should be blocked and which should be rejected.
  • A U.S. bank interdicts a commercial payment destined for the account of XYZ Import-Export Co. at the Bank of XYZ in Sudan. The Bank of XYZ is wholly-owned by the Government of Sudan and, accordingly, is a Specially Designated National of Sudan. This payment must be blocked.
  • A U.S. bank interdicts a commercial payment destined for the account of ABC Import-Export at Sudanese French Bank, Khartoum, Sudan. Unlike the Bank of XYZ, Sudanese French Bank, Khartoum is a private sector entity so there is no blockable interest in this payment. However, processing the payment would mean facilitating trade with Sudan and providing a service in support of a commercial transaction in Sudan, therefore the U.S. bank must reject the payment.
 
Rejected and blocked funds transfers must be reported to OFAC within 10 days. Questions about whether a transaction should be blocked or rejected should be directed to OFAC Compliance. [01-15-15]
 
 
 
 
ADDITIONAL INFORMATION – This Q&A was included in the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s online Resource Center for OFAC - Sanctions Compliance, which may be found here:  https://www.treasury.gov/resource-center/faqs/Sanctions/Pages/faq_compliance.aspx
 

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