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Heads Up for Companies with Foreign Business Ties

Mar 21, 2008
Compliance has a deep and dreaded meaning for many big businesses these days since fraud scandals and terror threats shook the United States down to its core from a decade on ago. But before major compliance statutes passed and this era of hyper worry about national security evolved, there were still some core concepts that the U.S. and her trade agenda set a moral bar to.

While the Patriot Act is a phrase that most Americans recognize today, the lesser euphemized Trading with the Enemy Act of 1917 is not as well known, but whose roots lie far back with the presidency of Woodrow Wilson in the wake of World War I. TWEA, as it is often abbreviated, is a federal law that was created to restrict trade with countries hostile to the U.S. This was basically a law that gave the president power to restrict trading with any country it had conflict or war with.

The Office of Foreign Asset Controls (OFAC) was later created using many of the same features outlined in the TWEA act. The Office of Foreign Asset Controls is a position within the United States Department of the Treasury that overseas and enforces trade embargoes with countries that the U.S. is at odds with, usually because of oppressive governmental policies, drug trafficking, national security issues, or some aspect of an international trade war between them and the U.S.

OFAC also makes sure that institutions and businesses within the U.S. are in compliance and are not trading or providing services with these countries or foreign nationals that are on the black list without proper authorization.

Obtaining Office of Foreign Asset Controls (OFAC) Compliance

OFAC keeps a census list of individuals and organizations that are being screened for trade and business with the U.S. and it's up to those that are doing business to be in compliance so they are not getting goods or services from U.S. institutions.

OFAC does not have any time frame to become compliant; they demand to be compliant from the start and expect those companies to maintain back checking upon every new update from the Treasury Dept. They have big penalties for those who do not keep in compliance too, so unless one considered jeapordizing their business, license or are willing to pay hefty civil penalty fines it would be wise to comply with their program.

What most companies in the U.S. worry about is how they can be in compliance and what they need to buy or beware of so that they stay in the loop with the OFAC laws and mandates. According to OFAC's site, they propose that all businesses look into buying software packages that are commercially available, which have updates to new names and rules that regulate OFAC's block list.

Banks are of particular interest because many international wire transfers and trade transfers are at a higher risk. The U.S. Treasury site has a great deal of specific information that can be referenced as well.
About the Author
Art Gib is a freelance writer. Attus Technologies (http://www.attustech.com) provides consulting services for institutions to bring them within the Office of Foreign Asset Controls (OFAC) compliance, as well as a variety of other Federal laws and regulations.
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