Recently, in a presentation to the American Association of Exporters & Importers (AAEI), Jessica Brinkmann of the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) announced that she has been performing OFAC audits on U.S. companies. These audits appear to be part of an outreach effort by OFAC to ensure an understanding by U.S. businesses of OFAC requirements. She explained that she locates companies to be audited through various searches in which she attempts to identify companies doing business in the Middle East or South America. She will then visit these companies to learn their processes and procedures for OFAC compliance. Significantly, she noted that in many instances, the company is contacted on the day of the visit, although some companies are given advance warning.
OFAC audits require companies to have implemented processes and procedures to ensure compliance with OFAC requirements. Based on Ms. Brinkman’s presentation, if the company has the appropriate written processes and procedures in place when OFAC visits, the meeting is short and favorable. On the other hand, the inability to demonstrate compliance could result in further reviews and the expenditure of significant time and expense by the company.