The Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) recently settled claims for embargo travel violations to Cuba by two Miami airline charter companies and a national magazine.
C&T Charters, Inc., paid a $125,000 penalty settlement to OFAC for allegations of acting as the operator of charter flights between Nassau, Bahamas and Havana, Cuba, without OFAC authorization, and for record keeping deficiencies found during compliance audits by OFAC. Wilson International Services, Inc., paid $61,000 to settle alleged record keeping deficiencies found during OFAC audits. In September, 1998 following an investigation, OFAC suspended the licenses of both companies to provide travel-related services to Cuba.
- Harper's Bazaar paid $31,000 in settlement of allegations that it engaged in unlicensed payments for travel expenses in 1998 for a photo shoot in Cuba.
"These penalty settlements serve to emphasize our strong commitment to fully enforce travel restrictions to Cuba, even as we work to implement new humanitarian measures under the embargo in support of the Cuban people,@ said OFAC Director Richard Newcomb.
All travel-related transactions involving Cuba by persons subject to U.S. jurisdiction remain highly regulated and travel for tourism and unlicensed business purposes remains strictly prohibited. OFAC investigates several hundred reports of unlicensed travel to Cuba each year, with many of these cases resulting in a civil penalty proceeding.
Economic sanctions were imposed against Cuba in 1963 to exert financial pressure against Fidel Castro's regime. Most economic transactions are prohibited, unless otherwise authorized by OFAC. Criminal penalties for violation of these sanctions range up to 10 years in prison, $1 million in corporate fines and $250,000 in individual fines. Civil penalties of up to $55,000 per violation may also be imposed. Since October 1992, the effective date of OFAC's civil penalty authority, Treasury has collected more than $2 million in civil monetary penalties for Cuba embargo violations.