U.S. Further Eases Cuba Sanctions

09/22/2015

The U.S. Treasury Department Office of Foreign Assets Control (“OFAC”) has amended its Cuban Assets Control Regulations to, in OFAC’s words, “further implement elements of the policy announced by the President on December 17, 2014 to engage and empower the Cuban people.” In practice, the amendments make important changes to the Cuban Assets Control Regulations, originally liberalized in January of this year. Among these changes, as discussed below, the Administration is authorizing eligible businesses to open and maintain a physical presence in Cuba.

Travel and Related Services

Carrier services by vessel are now permitted without a specific license, including on-board lodging (cruises). Authorized travelers may open and close bank accounts in Cuba for use while visiting there.

Telecommunications and Internet-Based Services

Telecommunications and Internet service providers can establish and maintain a presence in Cuba using a wide range of business structures, including subsidiaries, branches, offices, joint ventures, franchises and agency or other business relationships. Marketing of such services is now also permitted.

Physical Presence in Cuba

OFAC is allowing certain U.S. persons to establish a physical presence such as an office or other facility in Cuba. Among those authorized are: news bureaus, providers of mail and parcel and cargo services, providers of telecommunications or Internet-based services, entities organizing or conducting certain educational activities, religious organizations, and providers of travel and carrier services.

Financial Transactions

OFAC is eliminating several of the limitations on remittances to Cuban nationals who are not Cuban government or Communist Party officials. The rules on access by Cuban nationals to U.S. bank accounts are also being liberalized.

Legal Services

U.S. lawyers may now advise Cuban nationals with regard to compliance with U.S. law (of course, not including facilitation of transactions that violate OFAC’s regulations). U.S. lawyers may represent Cubans who initiate or are named as defendants or parties to legal, arbitration or administrative proceedings before U.S. federal, state or local courts or agencies. This includes representation in connection with the imposition or enforcement of sanctions.

 

The application of these regulations is complex and varies considerably depending on the business and the transaction concerned. Thus, the foregoing is only a general description not to be relied upon as legal advice. For information with respect to a specific situation, please contact the Haynes and Boone Cuba sanctions team:

Washington, D.C.
Edward M. Lebow
+1 202.654.4514
ed.lebow@haynesboone.com

 

Washington, D.C.
Arthur A. Cohen
+1 202.654.4559
arthur.cohen@haynesboone.com

 

New York
Gilbert D. Porter
+1 212.659.4965
gilbert.porter@haynesboone.com

 

Dallas
Larry B. Pascal
+1 214.651.5652
larry.pascal@haynesboone.com

 

Dallas
Alberto de la Peña
+1 214.651.5618
alberto.delapena@haynesboone.com

Houston
Bradley J. Richards
+1 713.547.2028
brad.richards@haynesboone.com

 

Houston
George Y. Gonzalez
+1 713.547.2011
george.gonzalez@haynesboone.com

Houston
Ricardo Garcia-Moreno
+1 713.547.2208
ricardo.garcia-moreno@haynesboone.com

Mexico City
William (Hunt) Buckley
+52.55.5249.1812
hunt.buckley@haynesboone.com


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