Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC)

Written By
Paul Tracy
Updated July 24, 2021

What is the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC)?

The Office of Foreign Assets Control is the entity within the U.S. Treasury Department that creates and enforces trade sanctions. The OFAC used to be called the Office of Foreign Funds Control.

How Does the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) Work?

The Treasury Department began sanction activity during the War of 1812, when the U.S. instituted trade sanctions against Britain. The OFAC administers several sanctions programs that restrict trade with certain countries or block assets from certain countries. These sanctions can be against countries or groups of individuals, such as drug traffickers. Many sanctions are based on mandates from the United Nations and are done in conjunction with other governments.

Why Does the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) Matter?

In an effort to protect U.S. financial and national interests, the Office of Foreign Assets Control targets countries that traffic narcotics, engage in activities related to proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, and threaten the safety of the United States.

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