The US Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) stated that it “understands that the COVID-19 pandemic can cause technical and resource challenges for organizations.” Organizations are encouraged to contact OFAC at the dedicated contact if they expect delays in reporting 1) blocking and reject reports, 2) requirements under general or specific licenses and 3) responding to administrative subpoenas.
Additionally, OFAC reiterated that it “supports a risk-based approach to sanctions compliance.” Therefore OFAC says, “if a business facing technical and resource challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic chooses, as part of its risk-based approach to sanctions compliance, to account for such challenges by temporarily reallocating sanctions compliance resources consistent with that approach, OFAC will evaluate this as a factor in determining the appropriate administrative response to an apparent violation that occurs during this period. OFAC will address these issues on a case-by-case basis.”
It is unclear what treatment such reallocation would receive in the case of an enforcement breach, but organizations should ensure that their sanctions compliance programmes remain tailored to and do not ignore sanctions risks in the face of these challenges.
OFAC encourages persons, including financial institutions and other businesses, affected by the COVID-19 global pandemic to contact OFAC as soon as practicable if the person believes it may experience delays in its ability to meet deadlines associated with regulatory requirements administered by OFAC.