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OFAC changes include business meetings in Cuba

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A little over a year later from the start of historic talks between the United States and Cuba, Americans are now permitted to attend and hold business meetings in Cuba. These meetings or conferences must be planned and organized by an international professional organization. Recent amendments to the Cuban Assets Control Regulations (CACR) (the embargo) were announced by the U.S. Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) earlier this week.

A press release from the Treasury Department stated “These amendments will further facilitate travel to Cuba for authorized purposes related to professional meetings and other events.”

The OFAC amendments regarding business meetings in Cuba state:

“Professional meetings organized by an international professional organization. Full-time professionals are authorized to engage in Cuba travel-related transactions and such additional transactions as are directly incident to travel to Cuba to attend professional meetings or conferences in Cuba pursuant to § 515.564(a)(2), provided that

(1) the meeting or conference is organized by an international professional organization, institution, or association that regularly sponsors meetings or conferences in other countries;

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(2) the organization, institution, or association sponsoring the meeting or
conference is not headquartered in the United States unless it has been
specifically licensed to sponsor the meeting;

(3) the purpose of the meeting or conference is not the promotion of tourism in Cuba or other commercial activities involving Cuba that are inconsistent with the Regulations; and

the meeting or conference is not intended primarily to foster production of any biotechnological products.

(from the US Treasury.gov website)

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Jacob J. Lew, Treasury Secretary stated in a press release, “Today’s amendments to the Cuban Assets Control Regulations build on successive actions over the last year and send a clear message to the world: the United States is committed to empowering and enabling economic advancements for the Cuban people.”

Important to note is that OFAC still fines corporations for violating the blockade and doing business in Cuba, acting outside the existing constraints.  On January 20, 2016, a few days before the recent amendments were announced (January 29th), WATG Holdings Inc. was fined $140,400 US for violatingtrade sanctions.

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