about-us - Association of Certified Sanctions Specialists

About Us


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 Specialists”

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.

Financial institutions, international corporations, law firms, consulting companies, government and other trades and businesses depend on the ACSS to assist them with their sanctions compliance needs. “Certified Sanctions Specialist” or CSS is a mark of distinction that shows individuals have had full sanctions compliance training.

ACSS works with several international organizations including the UN Security Council – Sanctions Division and EU Commission on Private-Public Partnership and Capacity Building Outreach initiatives in the United States and Central Asia and the Middle East.

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.

“Sanctions are profoundly complex in the international insurance market. The ACSS initiative fills an important need in promoting compliance expertise in this area.”
Robert Walsh

Deputy Chief Compliance Officer, AXA Group - New York, NY USA

“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.”
Clay Stevenson

Managing Director | Global Head of Sanctions, Deutsche Bank

“I gained a lot of insight especially in the export field. I loved the panels and listening to the experts, I think it was very beneficial. I take about a training in the ACSS website a month. This is the most comprehensive community for sanctions and export controls and I am so happy to be part of it.”
Brian Andera

Compliance Risk Manager Lead, USAA