Lindemann Law

How can Individuals be removed from U.S. sanctions list?

As of January 2024, more than 2000 Russian individuals and legal entities have been included in the U.S. sanctions list as a result of measures taken by the US in connection with the situation in Ukraine. A number of individuals have been successfully removed from both the EU, Swiss and U.S. sanctions lists already. If you are considering applying for reconsideration from the U.S. sanctions list, the following information will be relevant for you:

1. What is the overarching purpose of the U.S. Economic Sanctions Policy? When can persons be removed from Sanctions List (the “Specially Designated Nationals List” or SDN List)?
The purpose for the U.S. imposing sanctions on an individual or entity is to compel them to change their behaviour. This could include small steps, such as showing that they are no longer involved in an industry or working for a particular government. Or it could include much more extreme steps, such as leaving one’s job, moving to another country, adopting verifiable auditing procedures, relinquishing ownership of a company, or otherwise demonstrating that the basis for a sanctions designation no longer applies.  

Economic sanctions are distinct from criminal charges because the goal is not to “punish” the sanctioned person, but to compel them to adhere to U.S. policy goals.  Moreover, the U.S. government has an administrative process for determining whether individuals or entities should be removed from the SDN List, and considers each case separately based on its merits. Accordingly, if a sanctioned person can show that the basis for their SDN designation no longer applies, they could see their name removed from the U.S. sanctions list, and their life return to normal. Successful cases of U.S. sanctions removal are oftentimes businesspeople that do not or no longer support certain government activities, as well as family members or known contacts that do not or no longer support sanctioned actors.

2. Are law firms allowed to represent SDN clients?
U.S. law firms may legally represent SDN clients in certain instances. The right to legal representation for sanctioned clients is enshrined in the U.S. Constitution. Therefore, the U.S. government cannot prevent you from exercising your right to an attorney.  However, U.S. law firms may only engage in certain activities on behalf of a sanctioned person.  In general, lawyers may represent any SDN client whose life, liberty, or property are at risk in the U.S., or for legal assistance in being removed from the SDN List, or for U.S. sanctions compliance and other related legal advice. 

3. What is the procedure to be removed from the U.S. sanctions list?
The first step for sanctions list removal procedure is to submit a petition for administrative reconsideration to the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC).  OFAC is the agency within the Treasury that is responsible for the administration of U.S. economic sanctions.  OFAC is also in charge of reviewing petitions for SDN List reconsideration and removal from this list.  OFAC petition process typically starts with sending several questionnaires to an SDN to obtain greater information before making a decision.  If OFAC does not make a decision in a timely manner—or if OFAC denies the petition— in our experience it can help SDNs to filing or threating with filing a lawsuit in U.S. Court to challenge their SDN designation and increase chances for a removal.

4. How long does it take to be removed from the U.S. sanctions list?
No two cases are alike, but typically the timeline for U.S. sanctions list removal requires up to one year before they can conclude that a person should be removed from the SDN List.  Some cases may last longer, depending on the underlying facts or circumstances. Nevertheless, the duration of the administrative process will oftentimes depend on a sanctioned person’s willingness to show that the basis for which they were designated is no longer applicable owing to a change in behavior or the adoption of remedial measures.

5. What successful precedents exist?

           US

  1. Anatoly Karachinskiy
    First Russian National to be removed from the U.S. SDN List following the Russian war in Ukraine on May 19, 2023
    Article link
  2. Andrey Golikov
    Office of Foreign Assets Control
    Press-release link
  3. Elena Titova
    Finews.ch
    Article link
  4. Natalya Alymova
    Global Sanctions
    Article link
  5. Paul Goldfinch
    Global Sanctions
    Article link

EU

  1. Saodat Narzieva
    The Guardian
    Article link
  2. Olga Ayziman
    Official Journal of the European Union
    Announcement link
  3. Dmitry Ovsyannikov
    EU Court of Justice
    Operative part of the ECJ Decision link
  4. Grigory Berezkin
    Reuters
    Article link
  5. Alexander Shulgin
    Financial Times
    Article link
  6. Georgy Shuvaev(deceased 2022)
    Reuters
    Article link

6. What are the benefits of a removal from the SDN list?
The mayor benefit of SDN list removal is that all assets of the former SDN are un-frozen and become free again. The former SDN can dispose of all his assets. Especially bank accounts will be deblocked. In addition, the assets of companies controlled by the former designated person are unfrozen and can be used to conduct business.

7. Why LINDEMANNLAW?

  • LINDEMANNLAW has experience with removals from EU, Swiss and US sanctions lists as we employ EU, Swiss and US lawyers.
  • We have Russian-speaking lawyers on our team who work on sanctions removal cases and work with Russian speaking clients for more than 12 years.
  • We can coordinate removals from EU, Swiss and US sanctions lists at the same time.
  • We have a specialized litigation department.
  • Alongside with human expertise, LINDEMANNLAW utilizes custom-tailored AI technology that helps to find proof for contesting that the grounds for sanctions had no factual basis or were inaccurately assessed.

For more information, please feel free to contact us and we will be happy to help you.

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