OFAC Specially Designated Nationals list available in new format

January 6, 2015

WASHINGTON (1/7/15)--A new format for the U.S. Treasury's Specially Designated National and Blocked Persons (SDN) list has been released. Maintained by Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), the format was jointly developed by the United Nations and the Wolfsberg Group of International Banks to allow for more efficient sanctions compliance.

The SDN list names individuals and companies owned or controlled by, or acting for or on behalf of, countries targeted for sanctions. It also lists individuals, groups and entities, such as terrorists and narcotics traffickers designated under programs that are not country-specific. Their assets are blocked, and U.S. entities are generally prohibited from dealing with them.

According to the Treasury, "the new format incorporates a variety of features that ensure maximum flexibility for sanctions list creators, while also limiting the need for future changes to the underlying data specification due to the standard's adaptability."

Features of the new format include:

  • New metadata, including specific labels for name parts that go beyond the standard, "Last name, First name" style of current sanctions lists. It allows for unique name parts to be used, labeled and properly ordered based on the nomenclature rules of a specific culture, language or region;

  • upport for language scripts beyond the standard Latin script, such as Arabic and other non-Latin script translations. The Treasury Department will provide a Latin script translation for all listed, non-Latin script sanctions targets;

  • A data dictionary of all valid lookup 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; and

  • Introduction of a flexible, "feature identifier" functionality that augments the normal identification look-up values that are currently available in the SDN List formats.

According to the Treasury, the United States is the first U.N. member to implement this data model, and it encourages adoption of the model among all U.N. member states.