Another question would certainly be: What does the Patriot Act have to do with background screening? The straightforward response is: ALOT!

In October 2001, a bill entitled: “Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism,” better known as the “USA Patriot Act,” was passed by Congress and became the law of the land.

The law’s objectives include combating money laundering and terrorist financing activities. It has also expanded the range of industries required to screen organizations and individuals. In fact, some states also have more restrictive requirements.

Implementation of major portions of the Act has been delegated to the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) which is the financial intelligence and enforcement agency of the U.S. Treasury Department. It administers and enforces economic and trade sanctions in support of U.S. national security and foreign policy objectives.

One key aspect of the Act and its regulatory framework is known as “Trading with the Enemy“. It mandates:

  • At a minimum, all businesses and organizations (including 501(c)(3)s) in the United States are legally required to screen, or have screened: new and existing employees, business associates, tenants, members, franchisees, volunteers, etc., by employing what is referred to as the “Specially Designated Nationals” or (SDN) list
  • In reality, anyone that your enterprise or organization is engaged with in any type of business relationship — background screening must be performed.

Ignorance of the law and its regulatory dictates is not an excuse.

The SDN list includes known terrorists, terrorist supporters, international narcotics traffickers and those engaged in activities related to the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. Remember, it is not only wealthy people who have an abundance of money.

Over the past several years, OFAC has imposed millions of dollars in civil and criminal penalties. Even worse, a conviction can result in the additional penalty of ten years federal imprisonment per occurrence.

The bottom line is that the SDN list should be included in your risk management processes and procedures. SDN searches are complex and not at all straightforward. Such research is better left to a licensed and knowledgeable consumer reporting agency, also known as a reliable background screening firm.

Posted by: Rudy Troisi, President and CEO, Reliable Background Screening

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