Treasury Lifts Sanctions on Soccer Team Tied to Cali Cartel

By Dialogo
April 09, 2013

On April 5, the U.S. Department of the Treasury announced the removal of the Colombian professional soccer team América de Cali (also known as Corporación Deportiva América) from the list of Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons (SDN List).

The Treasury designated the América de Cali team on June 8, 1999, pursuant to Executive Order 12978 of 1995, “Blocking Assets and Prohibiting Transactions with Significant Narcotics Traffickers,” because it was under the ownership or control of Cali Cartel leaders Miguel and Gilberto Rodriguez Orejuela, and other designated individuals. Because that is no longer the case, the Treasury Department delisted América de Cali, and U.S. persons will now be allowed to enter into financial transactions with the ownership of the team, and any assets that they may have had in the U.S. are now unblocked.

“Today’s lifting of the designation of América de Cali is a testament to the enormous efforts made in recent years by both the team and the Colombian government to completely end the criminal influences that have overshadowed the team in the past,” said Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, David S. Cohen.

“As we continue our work with the Colombian government to combat the threat of narcotics trafficking, we will use our authorities to target those responsible for illicit behavior just as we will lift sanctions in cases where there has been a concrete change in behavior.”

The soccer team’s corporate entity recently completed a transparent process of restructuring and bankruptcy procedures under the oversight of the Colombian government that included a vigorous due diligence process on all prospective shareholders and corporate officers. The results of this process demonstrated that América de Cali has cut its ties with designated parties, allowing the Treasury to proceed with removing the team from the SDN List.

The removal of América de Cali from the SDN List demonstrates that entities may be, and regularly are, removed from the SDN List when circumstances warrant it.

A designated party may petition the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) for the removal of its name from the SDN List. In general, proof of changes in circumstances and behavior are key to OFAC removing a person or entity from the SDN List.