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New Format for OFAC Sanctions List Released

Friday, January 09, 2015
Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg Trade Report

The Office of Foreign Assets Control released this week a new format for its Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons (SDN) List. OFAC states that this new format was developed by the United Nations and the Wolfsberg Group of International Banks in an effort to create a universal sanctions list format that can be efficiently used by governments worldwide and enhances sanctions compliance. The United States is the first UN member to implement this format and will continue to encourage others to adopt it as well.

According to OFAC, some of the new capabilities associated with the new format include the following.

- There is a great deal of new metadata, including specific labels that allow for unique name parts to be used, labeled and properly ordered based on the nomenclature rules of a specific culture, language or region.

- Language scripts beyond the standard Latin script are now supported, making it possible for sanctions targets to be provided to users in their original script.

- There is a data dictionary of all valid look-up values in the header of the file, making it easier for list users to construct databases that contain identifiers and other information that match the data in OFAC’s systems. When new look-up values are introduced to a sanctions list, the data

dictionary is automatically updated.

- A flexible “feature identifier” functionality has been introduced that augments the normal identification look-up values currently available in the SDN List formats and allows OFAC to provide easily-parsed, non-traditional identifier information. 

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