A reader and colleague sent me an email with a great story (and the wire documents to back it up) about OFAC screening software gone bad. At issue was a relatively small wire transfer that was blocked because the SWIFT message referenced Sudan. What was the reference? Well in SWIFT message field 59, which contains the beneficiary account number, the account number was shown as XDQSUDAN13DE4. (For obvious reasons, I have munged all the alphanumeric characters of the actual account number except for S, U, D, A and N).

Now, I realize that being given an account number with the words Sudan, Iran, Cuba or some SDN name is about the same as the chance of a chimp randomly typing out in its entirety Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit (although there are some who might suggest that is precisely what happened), this amusing incident indicates that screening software is stupid and relentless and that you need to check everything about a transaction to avoid unexpected glitches. It makes me wonder how Mark Cuban can conduct any business at all these days.