The “Watch List”

What is the watch list?

Watch List is our nation’s version of the “Naughty List” without Santa Claus.  If you are on the “Naughty List,” good luck trying to board a plane, enter the United States of America or receive a visa without a couple of crazy weeks or… months.

The government is up front about having the Watch List; they don’t try to make it secret… however, the names of people on that Watch List are “hush-hush” and only made available to businesses and organizations (like banks, airports, etc.)  This list is huge (over 755,000 names and pseudo-names) and was once multiple lists that were being shuffled around to all the federal agencies.

The FBI Terrorist Screening Center (TSC) brought all of them together to create one BIG MASTER LIST: “The Watch List.”  (This all came about when President Bush signed the Homeland Security Presidential Directive 6 in 2003.) 

To be on the list, the person would have to be suspected or have engaged in behavior of any sort relating to terrorism.  For example:  have a criminal record for terrorist-related activities or known terrorist associations/organizations OR be an active member in an extremist group.  If a name matches a name on this watch list, their life can change dramatically.

You may be:

Flagged for things regulated by the federal government:

  • Air travel (53,000 people were stopped and questioned from December 2003 to May 2007… but most were released for lack of evidence.  
  • Border crossings
  • Speeding ticket
  • Engage in other suspicious terrorist activity

Flagged from the public list when trying to:

  • Open a bank account
  • Do any sort of financial transfers
  • Buy a car
  • Rent a car, etc

So… let’s just say every financial move can become monitored. Watch list people are specifically not allowed to do ANY financial business within the U.S.

Are you OFAC compliant?

If your organization/business conducts business with someone on this list, your business might be added to the Watch List.  If you are unsure about the thoroughness of your ability to check the list, just give us a call. We help organizations search all the names thoroughly without negatively impacting your business.

What is PEP?

The first time I ran a Google search on the PEP, it brought up websites about post-exposure prophylaxis.  That’s not exactly what I was looking for.

I was searching for the PEP, you ask?  The PEP (politically exposed person) is just as it sounds. A person on the PEP is usually an existing or previous senior foreign political figure, their direct family, and their close contacts/associates.

PEPs are not only typical political figures. They can also be executives of a foreign government-owned corporation.

Now, why does PEP matter to you?

PEPs have used financial institutions as conduits for corruption, bribery, money laundering… the list goes on with illegal activities.

But, not all PEPs have the same amount of risk.  Their individual risk will be determined by several different factors (geographic locations, business they are in, position, level of authority, etc).  Products, services and size as well as the complexity of the account determine the risk as well.

As of the year 2001, banks and financial institutions are required to use procedures to establish risk in order to determine if a person is on the PEP list. Banks that choose to still “do business” with dishonest PEPs face a huge risk, more regulations and possible supervisory action. So … make sure you are checking the PEP list.

Integra makes it easy.  Find out how at


What is OFAC?

What is this OFAC?

Repeat after me, Office of Foreign Assets Control (run by the US Dept. of Treasury). That’s a mouth full.

What does OFAC do?

OFAC manages and implements financial and trade authorizations (sanctions).  They closely monitor and in some cases, freeze assets (under the U.S. authority) of targeted foreign countries, regimes, terrorists, international narcotics traffickers, those involved in manufacturing and selling weapons of mass destruction, and other threats to the U.S. economy, national security or foreign policy.  These sanctions require collaboration with allied governments and are based upon the United Nations’ directives.  (Whew!)

So, there’s an OFAC list I’m supposed to do something with?

OFAC lists individuals and organizations that the government suspects of terrorism or having ties to terrorism. If they are on the list, their assets have or will soon be frozen! Funding organizations with terrorist ties (as listed by OFAC) is illegal. If OFAC finds that your organization is violating the lists, there are major fines involved.  (We are talking MAJOR fines… yikes!)

Understanding OFAC and how to become compliant can be a challenge.

If you have any questions, give us a call or send us a message.

BSA Compliance | Here are 2 quick ways to find out if you are BSA compliant.

The Bank Secrecy Act (aka. The Currency and Foreign Transactions Reporting Act of 1970) requires U.S. financial institutions (banks, etc.) to assist U.S. government agencies in detecting and preventing money laundering. This act is also referred to as AML.

Here is what it means for you:

  1. Keep records of cash purchases or unfixed catalysts, file reports of cash transactions more than $10,000 (daily collective amount)
  2. Report any suspicious activity that could to money laundering, tax evasion or any other criminal activities.

For more information about the Bank Secrecy Act click this link.