In May 2020, the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) issued an advisory to the maritime industry detailing the risks of breaching U.S. sanctions and how best to mitigate them. Whilst the guidance is non-binding, the message remained clear that all entities across the maritime supply chain must significantly improve their compliance programmes. The guidelines laid out in the advisory are best practices to avoid a sanctions violation, and OFAC will almost certainly evaluate a company’s adherence to the guidance as a mitigating factor if they violate economic sanctions.
The advisory culminates a decade of intense focus on how countries such as Iran, North Korea, and Syria utilise maritime fleets to advance their economic interests and, therefore, urges maritime partners to identify the beneficial owners of their clients and fleet assets.
However, OFAC does not provide advice on how to translate their advisory into action, thus Pole Star and Blackstone Compliance Services have collaborated to provide further insight into the U.S. requirements and their relevance a year on, alongside how to implement risk-based controls through a KYC programme.