Frequently Asked Questions

For purposes of section 10(a)(2)(A) of SSIDES and § 589.201(a)(6)(vii)(B)(1) of the URSR, OFAC will interpret the phrase “subject to sanctions imposed by the United States with respect to the Russian Federation” to be persons subject to sanctions under SSIDES, as amended, the Ukraine Freedom Support Act (UFSA), as amended, provisions of CAATSA with respect to the Russian Federation, and any covered Executive order as defined in § 589.305 and section 10(f)(1) of SSIDES.  Section 10(f)(1) of SSIDES and § 589.305 define the term “covered executive order” to mean any of the following:   Executive Order (E.O.) 13660E.O. 13661E.O. 13662, E.O. 13685, E.O. 13694, relating to the Russian Federation, or E.O. 13757, relating to the Russian Federation.  Persons “subject to sanctions imposed by the United States with respect to the Russian Federation” includes persons who are listed on the SDN List, SSI List, or NS-MBS List pursuant to the authorities listed above, and associated persons subject to sanctions pursuant to OFAC’s 50 percent rule.

Date Updated: April 29, 2022

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“foreign person” – As stated in § 589.317 of the Ukraine-/Russia-Related Sanctions Regulations (URSR), the term foreign person for purposes of the SSIDES section 10 provisions in §§ 589.201(a)(6) and 589.413 means any citizen or national of a foreign state (including any such individual who is also a citizen or national of the United States), or any entity not organized solely under the laws of the United States or existing solely in the United States, but does not include a foreign state.  This definition is consistent with section 10(f)(2) of SSIDES.

“knowingly” – section 589.322 states that the term knowingly, with respect to conduct, a circumstance, or a result, means that a person has actual knowledge, or should have known, of the conduct, the circumstance, or the result.  This definition is consistent with section 221(4) of CAATSA.

“materially violate” – For purposes of section 10(a)(1) of SSIDES, OFAC will interpret the term “materially violate” to refer to an “egregious” violation.  A determination about whether a violation is egregious will be based on an analysis of the applicable General Factors as described in OFAC’s Economic Sanctions Enforcement Guidelines, located in subsection (B)(1), section V of Appendix A to 31 C.F.R. part 501.

“facilitate[ion] . . . for or on behalf of” – For purposes of section 10(a)(2) of SSIDES, facilitating a significant transaction for or on behalf of a person will be interpreted to mean providing assistance for a transaction from which the person in question derives a particular benefit of any kind (as opposed to a generalized benefit conferred upon undifferentiated persons in aggregate).  Assistance may include the provision or transmission of currency, financial instruments, securities, or any other value; purchasing, selling, transporting, swapping, brokering, financing, approving, or guaranteeing; the provision of other services of any kind; the provision of personnel; or the provision of software, technology, or goods of any kind.

“significant transaction” – section 589.413 states that for purposes of the SSIDES prohibitions in § 589.201(a)(6)(vii), the Secretary of the Treasury or the Secretary’s designee will consider the totality of the facts and circumstances when determining whether transactions are “significant.”  As a general matter, some or all of the following factors may be considered: (1) the size, number, and frequency of the transaction(s); (2) the nature of the transaction(s); (3) the level of awareness of management and whether the transaction(s) are part of a pattern of conduct; (4) the nexus between the transaction(s) and the person subject to sanctions imposed by the United States with respect to the Russian Federation, as defined in SSIDES, or any child, spouse, parent, or sibling of such an individual; (5) the impact of the transaction(s) on the objectives of the Ukraine Freedom Support Act, SSIDES, CAATSA, Executive Order (E.O.) 13660, E.O. 13661, E.O. 13662, E.O. 13685, or any other Executive order issued pursuant to the national emergency declared in E.O. 13660; (6) whether the transaction(s) involve deceptive practices; and (7) such other factors that the Secretary of the Treasury or the Secretary’s designee deems relevant on a case-by-case basis.  

Furthermore, § 589.413(i) states a transaction is not significant if U.S. persons would not require specific licenses from OFAC to participate in it.  A transaction in which the person subject to sanctions is identified on the Sectoral Sanctions Identifications (SSI) List or the Non-SDN Menu-Based Sanctions (NS-MBS) List will only be potentially considered significant if:  1) the transaction involves deceptive practices (i.e., attempts to obscure or conceal the actual parties or true nature of the transaction(s), or to evade sanctions); and 2) such person is “subject to sanctions imposed by the United States with respect to the Russian Federation” or a child, spouse, parent, or sibling of such an individual, as described in § 589.413(d)(1) (see also FAQ 546).  

A transaction involving an entity solely on the SSI List or NS-MBS List is not automatically significant simply because a U.S. person would require a specific license from OFAC to participate in it and it involves deceptive practices.  In all cases, the totality of the circumstances, including the other factors listed above, will shape the final determination of significance.

“Deceptive or structured transaction” – the term structured, with respect to a transaction, has the meaning given the term “structure” in 31 CFR 1010.100 (xx) (or any corresponding similar regulation or ruling).  See 31 C.F.R. § 589.336.

Structured transactions are a type of deceptive transaction.  A “deceptive transaction” is one that involves deceptive practices.  As described in 31 C.F.R. § 589.413(f), “deceptive practices” are attempts to obscure or conceal the actual parties or true nature of a transaction, or to evade sanctions. 

Date Updated: April 29, 2022

 

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If, pursuant to § 589.209 of the URSR, Treasury decides to impose strict condition(s) on maintaining U.S. correspondent accounts or U.S. payable-through accounts for an FFI, or decides to prohibit the opening or maintaining of U.S. correspondent accounts or U.S. payable-through accounts for an FFI, Treasury will add the name of the FFI to the List of Foreign Financial Institutions Subject to Correspondent Account or Payable-Through Account Sanctions (CAPTA List) on OFAC’s website and publish the name of the FFI in the Federal Register along with the applicable prohibition or strict condition(s).  The CAPTA List will be included in the Consolidated Sanctions List Data Files and will be available for download in all Consolidated Sanctions List data file formats. 

Date Updated: April 29, 2022

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Significant transaction” and “significant financial transaction”– section 589.413 of the URSR states that for purposes of the UFSA prohibitions in § 589.209, the Secretary of the Treasury will consider the totality of the facts and circumstances when determining whether transactions or financial transactions are “significant.”  As a general matter, some or all of the following factors may be considered:  (1) the size, number, and frequency of the transaction(s); (2) the nature of the transaction(s); (3) the level of awareness of management and whether the transaction(s) are part of a pattern of conduct; (4) the nexus between the transaction(s) and a person subject to sanctions imposed by the United States with respect to the Russian Federation as described in § 589.413(d)(2)–(3); (5) the impact of the transaction(s) on statutory objectives; (6) whether the transaction(s) involve deceptive practices; and (7) such other factors that the Secretary of the Treasury deems relevant on a case-by-case basis.  
For purposes of section 5 of UFSA as implemented by § 589.209, a transaction is not significant if U.S. persons would not require a specific license from OFAC to participate in it.  
For purposes of § 589.209(b), a transaction in which the person subject to sanctions is identified on the Sectoral Sanctions Identifications (SSI) List or the Non-SDN Menu-Based Sanctions (NS-MBS) List will only be potentially considered significant if:  1) the transaction involves deceptive practices (i.e., attempts to obscure or conceal the actual parties or true nature of the transaction(s), or to evade sanctions); and 2) such person is subject to sanctions pursuant to section of UFSA, as described in § 589.413(d)(2).
OFAC will generally interpret the term “financial transaction” broadly to encompass any transfer of value involving a financial institution.  For example, the following is a non-exhaustive list of activities that OFAC would consider to be a “financial transaction”:

  • The receipt or origination of wire transfers;
  • The acceptance of commercial paper (both retail and wholesale), and the clearance of such paper (including checks and similar drafts);
  • The receipt or origination of ACH or ATM transactions;
  • The holding of nostro, vostro, or loro accounts;
  • The provision of trade finance or letter of credit services;
  • The provision of guarantees or similar instruments;
  • The provision of investment products or instruments or participation in investments; and
  • Any other transactions for or on behalf of, directly or indirectly, a person serving as a correspondent, respondent, or beneficiary.

Facilitated” – For purposes of implementing section 5 of UFSA, OFAC will generally interpret the term “facilitated” broadly.  “Facilitated” refers to the provision of assistance for certain efforts, activities, or transactions, including the provision of currency, financial instruments, securities, or any other transmission of value; purchasing; selling; transporting; swapping; brokering; financing; approving; guaranteeing; the provision of other services of any kind; the provision of personnel; or the provision of software, technology, or goods of any kind.

Date Updated: April 29, 2022

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Section 226 of CAATSA amended section 5 of UFSA to make the sanctions in that section, which were previously discretionary, mandatory.  This section is implemented in § 589.209 of the URSR.  Under § 589.209, FFIs face sanctions if the Secretary of the Treasury determines that they knowingly engage in significant transactions involving certain defense- and energy-related activities or knowingly facilitate significant financial transactions on behalf of any Russian person added to OFAC’s SDN List pursuant to UFSA, Executive Order (E.O.) 13660, E.O. 13661, E.O. 13662, E.O. 13865, or any other E.O. addressing the crisis in Ukraine.  FFIs will not be subject to sanctions under § 589.209 solely on the basis of knowingly facilitating significant financial transactions on behalf of persons listed on OFAC’s Sectoral Sanctions Identification List pursuant to § 589.202, 589.203, 589.204, or 589.205, or any earlier version of Directives 1-4 of E.O. 13662.

Unless the Secretary of State makes a determination that it is not in the national interest of the United States to do so, the Secretary of the Treasury shall prohibit the opening and prohibit or impose strict conditions on the maintaining in the United States of correspondent accounts or payable-through accounts for any FFI that the Secretary of the Treasury, in consultation with the Secretary of State, determines has engaged in sanctionable activity.

Date Updated: April 29, 2022

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The term "shale projects," as defined in § 589.334 of the URSR, includes projects that have the potential to produce oil from resources located in shale formations as well as projects that have the potential to produce oil from resources located in fine-grained sedimentary rock formations including shale, limestone, dolomites, sandstones, and clay. 

Date Updated: April 29, 2022

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