OFAC Makes New Designations Pursuant to Somalia Sanctions

Today the United States Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) designated six (6) individuals they believe to be engaged in fueling violence and instability in Somalia. These individuals included two Eritrean government officials, Tewolde Negash and Taeme Goitom; a Sudanese al-Shabaab foreign fighter, Suhayl Salim Muhammad `Abd-el-Rahman (aka Abu-Faris), and three Kenyan al-Shabaab supporters, Abubaker Shariff Ahmed, Omar Awadh Omar and Aboud Rogo Mohammed. The aforementioned individuals are all alleged to have different roles, however, the allegations all have one overarching theme and that is their support of al-Shabaab and al-Qaeda and for activities aimed at the disruption of the Transitional Federal Government in Somalia.

Today’s designations were all made pursuant to Executive Order 13536 which imposed sanctions on those parties engaged in activities threatening the peace, stability, and security of Somolia. As a result of these designations, U.S. persons are prohibited from engaging in transactions with any of the designated parties and any assets owned by the designated parties which are under U.S. jurisdiction have been blocked. Executive Order 13536 is implemented through the President’s authority under the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA). Designations made pursuant to IEEPA are much more difficult to remove than those made under the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act (Kingpin Act), which is the underlying authority for a much more fluid sanctions program where designated parties come off and on to the list all the time. That said, there is an advantage when dealing with IEEPA based designations as opposed to Kingpin Act based designations, because disclosure of the evidence used in IEEPA designations is permitted under Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), whereas the Kingpin Act doesn’t permit disclosure under FOIA.

The Somalia designations have caused quite a bit of problems for non-governmental organizations (NGOs) providing humanitarian relief in the impoverished country. The reason for this is that it becomes difficult for NGOs, already operating on limited resources, and in high risk areas, to completely avoid those high profile individuals and organizations which have been designated. Any transactions done knowingly or unknowingly with such parties will lead to liability for the NGOs for sanctions violations. As more Somalia designations are made, the higher risk of sanctions violations the NGOs face in Somalia. As such, NGOs have more to worry about in Somalia than just helping alleviate human suffering.

The author of this blog is Erich Ferrari, an attorney specializing in OFAC matters. If you have any questions please contact him at 202-280-6370 or ferrari@ferrari-legal.com.

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