None of us focus on fighting terrorism through our closing procedures, but we do, in a small way, fight terrorism every day. Real estate practitioners should comply with updated (as of 8/8/2014) OFAC policies and procedures. Specifically, the names of the buyers, sellers and borrowers involved in real estate closings should be run through the Specially Designated Nationals (“SDN”) list and the Foreign Sanctions Evaders (“FSE”) List. The link to these lists is: http://www.treasury.gov/resource-center/sanctions/SDN-List/Pages/default.aspx.
If the search reveals a match, consult with the U.S. Department of Treasury’s website and review the FAQs. Keep in mind that it is a criminal violation to reveal to any party to the transaction the results of an OFAC search or that an OFAC search has been completed.
OFAC implements economic sanctions against countries, entities and individuals determined to be threats to national security. OFAC prohibits “U.S. persons”, including organizations, from, in general, dealing with property in which these named individuals or groups have a direct or indirect interest.
Compliance will avoid Federal civil and criminal penalties. Criminal penalties for OFAC violations can include fines of $50,000 to $10,000,000 and imprisonment of 10 to 30 years, and civil penalties of $50,000 – $250,000, or twice the value of the transaction, per violation.
Title insurance company underwriters should be able to assist with questions.