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About Sanctions
What are Sanctions?


Sanctions are traditionally defined as the “deliberate, government-inspired withdrawal, or threat of withdrawal, of customary trade and financial relations with a target country in an effort to change that country’s policies.”

Gary Hufbauer & Barbara Oegg, A Short Survey of Economic Sanctions, INST. FOR INT’L ECON. (Aug. 2001),

In addition to the more traditional, country-based measures, sanctions can be “targeted” against particular individuals, vessels, or entities. In other words, they are legal measures that restrict or prohibit trade and financial transactions with specified targets.

Targeted sanctions have become more common over the past two decades.

Sanctions can be either unilateral (e.g. issued by United Kingdom, United States), or multilateral (e.g. issued by United Nations Security Council, or European Union).

The Association of Certified Sanctions Specialists offers an examination that addresses knowledge and skills common to all sanctions professionals in varied employment settings, including financial institutions, international corporations, law firms, consulting companies, government, and other trades and businesses. Upon successfully passing the exam, participants will receive the credentials as a «Certified Sanctions

Goal of Sanctions

Penalize the target for its practices

Make a symbolic political statement of opposition against such practices

Thwart activities that are illegal or threaten national security

About ACSS

The Association of Certified Sanctions Specialists

The Association of Certified Sanctions Specialists (ACSS) is a professional membership body for sanctions professionals worldwide. It was formed to advance sanctions compliance by supporting the professional development of the individuals who lead those efforts.

Employment settings, including financial institutions, international corporations, law firms, consulting companies, government, and other trades and businesses. Upon successfully passing the exam, participants will receive the credentials as a «Certified Sanctions Specialist» or CSS.

For more information on the CSS Certification:

The goal of ACSS is to:

  • Serve the professional interests of its members by delivering high quality services and promoting the interests of the profession
  • Provide professional qualifications and set standards for sanctions practitioners
  • Be an authoritative and respected voice promoting sanctions compliance
  • Enhance the careers of sanctions professionals worldwide

Our Founder

Saskia Rietbroek

Saskia is the Executive Director and Co-Founder of the Association of Certified Sanctions Specialists (ACSS), a professional membership body for sanctions professionals worldwide. She is a Certified Sanctions Specialist (CSS) and Certified Anti-Money Laundering Specialist (CAMS) and an industry leader in financial crime topics. Saskia has over 15 years of Sanctions/AML experience in the U.S., Latin America and Europe. Her global footprint enables Saskia to apply valuable expertise and insight into international training and financial crime compliance projects.

She is a frequent speaker in English, Spanish and Dutch on a variety of financial crime topics.

She earned law degrees from Leiden University (Netherlands) and Universidad La Católica (Lima, Peru), and was admitted to the Lima Bar Association. She also holds an international MBA from Florida International University. She speaks fluent Dutch, English and Spanish, as well as basic German.

<span class="quote">“</span><span class="quote_text">Sanctions are profoundly complex in the international insurance market. The ACSS initiative fills an important need in promoting compliance expertise in this area.</span><span style="margin-top: 10px;" class="quote">”</span>

Robert Walsh
Deputy Chief Compliance Officer
AXA Group
New York, NY

<span class="quote">“</span><span class="quote_text">Economic sanctions continue to be used with tremendous frequency by policymakers and the complexity of the measures, and the conflicts between them, is unprecedented. In this environment, specialized resources for sanctions professionals makes sense.</span><span style="margin-top: 10px;" class="quote">”</span>

Clay Stevenson
Managing Director | Head of Sanctions &
Embargoes, Americas
Deutsche Bank – USA

Attendee Testimonials

Great knowledge from the presenters and the content was relevant

José R. Fernandez

Bank of America – Charlotte, NC, USA

Great coverage of information

Cathy Swindell-Smith

Wells Fargo – Charlotte, NC, USA

It was very informative. The speakers were clear and the information was disseminated in a clear, concise manner.

Nicolette Douglas

Axa Equitable Life Insurance Company – New York, NY, USA

The content was excellent and easy to understand. The presenters did a great job!

Susan Wilson

RBC – Toronto, Canada

Both speakers were exceptionally knowledgeable and provided practical information regarding the sanctions changes

Adam Hermes

Comerica Bank – Livonia, USA

Timely topic, detailed, knowledgeable speakers

Mary Flanagan

Regions Bank – Birmingham, AL, USA

Very helpful, clear information, important topics

Rita Sugiyama, CAMS, VP Sanctions, Citibank

— Miami, FL

Informative and presenters did well

Vanessa Rich

Exterran – Houston, Texas

Very relevant and practical items

Christian Velasquez

Payoneer – New York, NY, USA

Great speakers, practical advice

Jim Phillips, BSA OFAC Officer

Regions Bank – Birmingham, AL

Excellent speakers, very thoughtful information

Berenice Huffner, Compliance Manager

PNC – East Brunswick, NJ

Very well structured and executed. Addressed key points in a concise manner and was very engaging. Especially enjoyed the polling element which gave live industry data.

Alise Viba, Global Financial Crime Compliance Analyst

Aviva Investors – London, UK