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Recovering OFAC Blocked Assets

Our OFAC Attorney Represents Financial Institutions and Other Creditors in Actions to Recover Blocked Assets 

For financial institutions, real estate owners, and other creditors of individuals who have been labeled as specially designated nationals (SDNs) by the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), instituting foreclosure proceedings and taking other actions to collect payment require strategic planning and extreme caution. Not only do these entities have an obligation to report their possession of any blocked assets to OFAC; but, prior to taking any action with respect to those assets, they must obtain an OFAC license. The OFAC licensing application process is opaque at best, and failing to secure a license the first time around can effectively serve as a bar to pursuing foreclosure or collection unless and until a change in circumstances justifies re-application.

OFAC Licensing and Litigation Attorneys Serving SDN Creditors with Interests in South Florida

Each OFAC attorney at our firm serves as counsel to creditors of SDNs in South Florida. The attorneys in our OFAC practice group have particular experience in the licensing and commercial litigation aspects of OFAC practice, and they serve as local counsel for clients who need to pursue collection and foreclosure of OFAC-blocked assets in Fort Lauderdale, West Palm Beach, Miami and other South Florida locations. In addition to handling matters involving secured collateral, abandoned property and other blocked assets located in South Florida, we are able to assist with licensing and litigation involving SDNs’ overseas blocked assets as well, including obtaining licenses for the transfer of overseas assets in order to satisfy debts incurred on U.S. soil.

We assist with OFAC licensing, foreclosure and commercial litigation in the South Florida courts involving blocked assets including:

  • Airplanes and helicopters
  • Artwork, jewelry and other collections and high-value personal property items
  • Cash and other assets held by financial institutions
  • Commercial real estate
  • Condominiums and single-family residences
  • Financial accounts
  • Luxury vehicles
  • Yachts, speedboats and other vessels

What is the 50 Percent Rule for Blocked Assets?

OFAC established the 50 percent rule in 2008, and in 2014 it issued updated guidance that clarified much of the then-existing confusion around when an asset that was only partially owned by an SDN could be blocked. More recently, OFAC published additional clarification in a series of frequently-asked questions (FAQs) on its website.

Under the 50 percent rule, property that is partially owned by an SDN is considered blocked if the SDN owns a 50-percent or greater interest in the property. This applies to physical and financial assets as well as business organizations. In the words of OFAC:

“Persons whose property and interests in property are blocked pursuant to an Executive order or regulations administered by OFAC (blocked persons) are considered to have an interest in all property and interests in property of an entity in which such blocked persons own, whether individually or in the aggregate, directly or indirectly, a 50 percent or greater interest. Consequently, any entity owned in the aggregate, directly or indirectly, 50 percent or more by one or more blocked persons is itself considered to be a blocked person. The property and interests in property of such an entity are blocked regardless of whether the entity itself is [an SDN].”

OFAC’s guidance regarding the 50 percent rule addresses some specific circumstances as well. For example:

  • Ownership vs. Control – An entity that is subject to majority control by an SDN but that is not majority-owned by an SDN is not considered a blocked entity.
  • Individual vs. Aggregate SDN Ownership – When determining whether the 50 percent rule applies, OFAC considers the entity’s aggregate SDN ownership. If multiple SDNs’ ownership interests combine to meet or exceed the 50-percent threshold, then the asset will be considered blocked.
  • Blocked vs. Non-Blocked Entities – If an SDN controls, but does not own 50 percent or more of, a non-blocked entity, U.S. persons (including creditors) are prohibited from transacting with the non-blocked entity through the SDN. As OFAC explains on its website, “U.S. persons should be careful when conducting business with non-blocked entities in which blocked individuals are involved; U.S. persons may not, for example, enter into contracts that are signed by a blocked individual.”
  • Direct vs. Indirect Ownership – The 50 percent rule applies to both direct and indirect SDN ownership of jointly-held assets. OFAC defines indirect ownership as, “ownership of shares of an entity through another entity or entities that are 50 percent or more owned in the aggregate by the blocked person(s).”

South American Experience, Worldwide Capability

As a result of our geographic location, much of our firm’s OFAC practice relates to SDNs from Venezuela and other South American countries. However, our OFAC practice extends far beyond representing clients in connection with licensing and litigation matters involving South American SDNs, and we have the resources and capability to handle OFAC matters on a worldwide scale. As a result, regardless of your (or your client’s) specific needs, if you need local counsel for an OFAC matter in South Florida, we encourage you to contact an OFAC lawyer at our firm to discuss what we can do to help.

Contact a South Florida OFAC Attorney to Recover Assets Blocked by the OFAC

For more information about our OFAC law firm’s representation for financial institutions, real estate owners, and other SDN creditors in South Florida, please contact us to discuss your (or your client’s) needs in confidence. Call our Fort Lauderdale office at 954-767-6333, or tell us how we can reach you and an OFAC attorney will be in touch shortly.