At the beginning of January, we reported on a lawsuit filed by Ante Gotovina, an alleged war criminal, who sued the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (“OFAC”) seeking removal from OFAC’s Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons List (the “SDN List”). Gotovina claimed that he should be removed based on the 3-2 reversal by an Appeals Panel of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (“ICTY”) of his conviction for war crimes. Earlier this week OFAC quietly removed Gotovina from the SDN list, announcing the removal in this Federal Register notice and stating that “circumstances no longer warrant inclusion” of Gotovina on the SDN List.
Getting removed from the SDN List is normally no easy task. Requests for removal normally languish for months or years at Treasury without response even though during that period the designated individual is unable to conduct financial transactions with U.S persons or firms. Indeed, a listed individually technically can’t even buy a hot dog on a street corner in New York while designated, although I personally have never seen any NYC hot-dog vendors card their customers and run their names against the SDN List. The Gotovina case suggests that the best way to get OFAC’s attention is to force the issue in court where, like it or not, OFAC will have to respond one way or the other on the court’s schedule, not its own.
Gotevina’s lawyer said the OFAC did not even bother to call him with the news of Gotovina’s removal.