Last week, we reported that there was some confusion relating to the new Sectoral Sanctions Identifications List inasmuch as OFAC said, in one place, that the prohibitions extended to dealing in equity and 90-day debt “of” and, in another place, it said it extended to dealing in equity and 90-day debt “for” parties on the list. The difference was significant because “of” would seem to connote a narrower restriction and only prohibit U.S. persons from loaning money to or purchasing equity from the parties on the SSIL. On the other hand, “for” would seem to prohibit, in addition, a number of other transactions, such as borrowing money from the party on the SSIL or acting as a broker to purchase stock from third parties for the entity on the SSIL. The SSIL used “of,” whereas the directives issued relating to the SSIL entries used “for.”
Well, sometime within the past several days, someone at OFAC quietly changed “of” on the SSIL to “for.” Given that people can be subjected to massive civil penalties and even sent to jail for engaging in prohibited transactions with entities on the new SSIL, one might have expected OFAC to admit the mistake and provide some clarification for the changed language, rather than simply sneaking onto the list under cover of darkness, making the change, and hoping that no one would notice that there had ever been a problem.
In any event, the SSIL and the directives now use the same language. If we could only figure out exactly what that language means.