Archive for the ‘SDN List’ Category


Feb

14

SDN List Hit Holds Up Food Bank Funds in Britain


Posted by at 11:12 pm on February 14, 2017
Category: Economic SanctionsOFACSDN List

Eventbrite Instagram Post via https://www.instagram.com/p/032C0eyzj7/?taken-by=eventbrite [Fair Use]So, UK accountant Mamunal Islam was minding his own business trying to raise money for a Bedford food bank. He thought maybe he’d sell tickets to a film through Eventbrite and use the proceeds to help people in his home town who needed food. He had never even heard of this obscure agency in the United States call the Office of Foreign Assets Control until San Francisco based Eventbrite told him that they were keeping his money and the hungry people in Bedford, well, they could eat cake. (Eventbrite didn’t really say the last part.)

It seems that Eventbrite thought that Mamunal Islam was a match on the SDN List, and although it never said that the food bank customers could eat cake, it did, according to an article on BBC News, say this:

Eventbrite said it was “truly sorry” but “a person with a very common name is more likely to make the list.” … Eventbrite said the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) had only recently added “M Islam” to its list. … A spokesman for the company said: “As a US company, Eventbrite must comply with US law. “In this instance, a payment to the organiser was temporarily held because of a potential OFAC name match. “Whether that is J Smith or M Islam does not make the slightest difference.”

To begin with, I don’t know what SDN List Eventbrite was using but it’s certainly not the one that OFAC publishes. Here’s every individual on the SDN List with Islam in his/her name:

ATABIEV, Islam SDN
ATABIYEV, Islam SDGT
ATABIYEV, Islam Seit-Umarovich SDGT
ABU ISLAM, Karim SDGT
ABU ISLAM SDGT
AL-SURIR, Abu Islam SDGT
AL-GADDAFI, Saif al-Islam LIBYA2
AL-QADHAFI, Saif al-Islam LIBYA2
EL-QADDAFI, Seif al-Islam LIBYA2
ELKADDAFI, Saif al-Islam LIBYA2
GADDAFI, Saif al-Islam LIBYA2
GADHAFI, Saif al-Islam LIBYA2
GHADAFFI, Saif al-Islam LIBYA2
GHATHAFI, Saif al-Islam LIBYA2
QADDAFI, Saif al-Islam LIBYA2
QADHAFI, Saif al-Islam LIBYA2
DEL ROSARIO SANTOS, Ahmad Islam SDGT

I don’t see any “M Islam” there, do you?  I don’t see anything even close other than “Islam” — which should not be cause to say that “Mamunal Islam” is a hit.  If sharing one part of a name is enough, than Eventbrite would need to block every Sally, Carol, José, Mohammed, Ahmed, Tom, Robert, Paul and James, because all those names also show up on the list.

Beyond this, Eventbrite had already burned the barn after the horses had escaped, so to speak.   If Mamunal Islam was really on the list — and he is not — then it would have been illegal to have sold any tickets on his behalf.  By the time there were actual funds to block, the rules had already been broken. So it’s not clear why Eventbrite didn’t tell Mr. Islam that there was an issue when he signed up or registered a new event rather than after he’d already sold a bunch of tickets for the food bank event.

Ultimately Eventbrite reversed its action after Mr. Islam provided “information confirming his country of birth” thereby proving, I suppose, that he is not the second son of Muammar Gaddafi.  So there was, ultimately, a happy ending, more or less, for Mr. Islam, Eventbrite, and the food bank in Bedford.

I understand that OFAC is in the business of scaring people to death and that Eventbrite’s reaction was not entirely irrational.  I’m also guessing that Eventbrite was the victim of one of the numerous paranoid screening services that market their value by claiming to screen against a semi-dubious list of sixty-two billion names of dodgy people.   Last, and perhaps least,  I’m sure “Islam” is scarier to an Internet company in San Francisco than, say, “Sally” or “Carol.”  Still, it seems that common sense should have prevailed here sooner than it did.

 

 

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Jan

9

Our Long National Nightmare Is Over


Posted by at 5:06 pm on January 9, 2017
Category: OFACSDN List

Washington DC Fireworks by Curtis Palmer [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Flickr https://flic.kr/p/5294FA [cropped] Regular readers of this blog are probably quite aware of my long-running crusade, dating back almost a decade, to free Daniel Garcia or, more accurately, to free people named Daniel Garcia from the stigma of sharing a name with someone on OFAC’s Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons List. Other posts on Daniel Garcia are here and here.

The impetus behind this crusade was that people named Daniel Garcia are routinely denied financial services because someone else named Daniel Garcia is on the SDN List. Worse, officials at OFAC admitted to me, anonymously of course, that no one at OFAC even knew who Daniel Garcia was or why he was on the list.

Well, Daniel Garcias of the world, rejoice! Last Friday, OFAC announced that it was removing the mysterious Daniel Garcia from the list, sans, of course, any explanation for the removal. Because no one at the agency was sure why he was designated, it couldn’t have found that Daniel Garcia had stopped doing whatever it was that got him on the list in the first place. OFAC couldn’t even say that Daniel Garcia was dead or alive or whether, like Schrödinger’s cat, he was both dead and alive at the same time.

No matter. All that counts here is the result. I hope that maybe I played a small part in this removal and in helping  the next guy named Daniel Garcia who tries to get a car loan  drive off the lot in a shiny new BMW.

Now we can focus our attention on Sally Jones.

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Sep

23

Bad News For Anyone Named Paul Davis


Posted by at 9:46 am on September 23, 2016
Category: OFACSDN List

Paul Davis via http://pacnetair.com/crew.html [Fair Use]
ABOVE: Paul Davis

Yesterday, the Office of Foreign Assets Control (“OFAC”) designated PacNet Services, a Canadian payments processing company, and many of its officers and employees as SDNs under the Transnational Criminal Organization (TCO) program. According to OFAC’s press release, PacNet “knowingly process[ed] payments on behalf of a wide range of mail fraud schemes that target victims in the United States and throughout the world.” Prior to this designation, only ten individuals and entities (comprising seven organizations) had been designated under the TCO program.

The head of PacNet, who was designated as part of yesterday’s OFAC action, is an individual and pilot named Paul Davis. According to OFAC, in one of its more colorful allegations, Davis used his piloting skills and aircraft “to move illicit bulk cash within Europe.”

Long term readers surely see now what’s coming next. Over the next several weeks, it is likely that anyone anywhere in the world named Paul Davis will confront a financial nightmare as banks, credit card companies and anyone else with screening software will deny them loans, seize their credit card payments, cancel their leases, and otherwise muck up any financial transactions in which they are involved. And, of course, since these Paul Davises are not the “real” Paul Davis, they have no rights at OFAC other than to try to unblock funds each and every time that happens.

It really is time for OFAC to have the common decency to figure out a solution for these unintended collateral consequences that occur when people with common names are designated. They do it for companies, like Tidewater, Inc, but simply cannot be bothered with mere individuals. And parents, before giving your kids a common name, think twice. Naming your kid Uriah Aloysius is beginning to look pretty attractive.

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Copyright © 2016 Clif Burns. All Rights Reserved.
(No republication, syndication or use permitted without my consent.)

Aug

12

Friday Round-Up


Posted by at 4:28 pm on August 12, 2016
Category: BISDDTCOFACSDN List

Bumper Cars on the Boardwalk

Here are a few recent odds and ends that are worth a mention (and to catch up on a few things I missed while on vacation):

  • The Directorate of Defense Trade Controls (“DDTC”) issued guidance as to which activities are “gunsmithing” that do not require registration under part 122 and which are “manufacturing” and do require registration. This guidance defines “gunsmithing” and “manufacturing” completely differently from the definitions used by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (“ATF”). For example, assembling kits into guns is “manufacturing” according to ATF but not according to DDTC. On behalf of lawyers everywhere: Thanks, DDTC, for keeping us busy!
  • More revisions to the TAA Guidelines, which are longer and less interesting than all six volumes of Proust, were announced. These mostly take into account the new definitions of export, re-export and retransfer that were recently adopted as an interim final rule by DDTC. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, true export reform would get rid of the ridiculous TAA process entirely and make it similar to the  process used by the Bureau of Industry and Security (“BIS”) for licensing technology exports.
  • The United States Marshals Service (“USMS”) is auctioning off 2,719.32669068 bitcoins. You will be, I’m sure, relieved to know that the auction notice explicitly states that the USMS won’t accept any bids from anyone on OFAC’s SDN List. I wouldn’t want Eliot Ness going after Rooster Cogburn, even if it would make a better movie than Batman v. Superman.

Photo Credit: Bumper Cars on the Boardwalk by Clif Burns, via Flickr https://flic.kr/p/JXGCgz. Copyright 2016 Clif Burns

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Jan

15

OFAC List Prevents Professor From Slaying Imaginary Dragons


Posted by at 10:51 am on January 15, 2016
Category: OFACSDN List

Epic Building by Epic Games via https://epicgames.com/images/values/epic_building.jpg [Fair Use]
ABOVE: Epic Games HQ

Although I confess to being baffled as to why grown-ups play online video games (at least until after they have read the entire Western canon), recently a grown-up (and a college professor at that) pitched a fit after the OFAC blocking software of Epic Games choked on his name and told him he was not allowed to open an account with them and play one of their video games. More fun probably than playing the video game (and pretending to be a buff warrior in possession of awesome weapons and spells) is unraveling what occurred next.

Muhammad Zakir Khan, an assistant professor at Broward College in Florida, tried to sign up for an account online with Epic Games in order to play something called “Paragon” (which sounds more like a dish detergent than a video game, but that’s another issue). His effort to create the account was refused, and he was informed that this was because of a match against the SDN List, something that Mr. Khan had never heard of, so, like any other online warrior, he took the battle to Twitter, tweeting:

@EpicGames My name is Khan and I am not a terrorist.

Within a just a few hours, the CEO of Epic Games responded (via Twitter of course):

Sorry, this isn’t intended. We’re working to fix ASAP. Cause: Overly broad filter related to US trade restrictions.

Later, he tweeted how they thought they might fix the problem:

We’re working to figure this out. Ideally, not at signup, but by matching name and billing address at purchase time.

Obviously Epic deserves some credit for its efforts to take on OFAC and its SDN list, even though phaser energy guns and revivifying potions are of no use against either. Unfortunately, once there is a name match there is no simple automated solution to resolving the hit. In the case of Mr. Khan, having his address would have been useless because there is no address listed for the Mohammad Khan on the SDN List that caused the hit. Indeed, there is no single adequate way that one can automate resolving false hits. Computers may be able to drive cars, vacuum your living room, and play Jeopardy, but this is something that best practice requires be done by an actual human being.

But there is another point to be made here. Why on earth do we care at all whether terrorists and narcotics kingpins spend money to play online video games? In fact, wouldn’t we prefer that terrorists and drug dealers spend more time slaying imaginary dragons and enemies on their computers and less time doing what they do in the real world?

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Copyright © 2016 Clif Burns. All Rights Reserved.
(No republication, syndication or use permitted without my consent.)