On Cuba Travel, Breaking the Law Has Consequences

Monday, September 12, 2016
Lately, anti-sanctions advocates and even some journalists have been encouraging Americans to play fast-and-loose with the law.

To do so, is a risky proposition -- for the law remains, it has a long memory and will far outlast the Obama Administration.

From The Miami Herald:

OFAC issues stiff fines against pro-Cuba activist

In a case that appears to represent a shift in policy, the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control has opened legal proceedings against a longtime pro-Cuba activist based in Tampa.

Albert A. Fox Jr., who has extensive ties with the Cuban government, faces a $100,000 fine for alleged violations of the U.S. embargo during two trips to the island over the past six years.

The sanctions are the first issued by OFAC to an individual at least since 2013.

According to official documents obtained by el Nuevo Herald, OFAC accuses Fox, president of the Alliance for Responsible Cuba Policy Foundation, of illegal transactions tied to two trips to Cuba. The alleged prohibited transactions include providing unauthorized travel services to five members of the International Association of Drilling Contractors of Houston — who traveled to the island in August 2010 — and engaging in unauthorized business activities, including meetings with Cuban government officials.

OFAC also presented more detailed charges against Fox tied to a second trip in September 2011 with a delegation of 15 people who traveled on an inaugural Tampa-Havana flight. The delegation was led by the late Steve Burton, former head of the Hillsborough Aviation Authority, and Mary Mulherm, former Tampa city commissioner. OFAC claims that Fox covered the cost for the delegation’s lodging at the Hotel Nacional, plane tickets with Xael Charters, transportation on the island with Havanatur, meals and visas for some members of the delegation.

A spokesman for the Treasury Department declined to comment on the pending case but reiterated that, “All U.S. persons, individuals and entities, must comply with the laws and regulations administered by the Office of Foreign Assets Control. OFAC investigates apparent violations as appropriate and consistent with U.S. government laws and regulations.”

“OFAC has taken various different types of enforcement actions in recent years, but these cases take time. You’ll note most of Fox’s travel infractions took place from 2010-2011, just as recent actions against banks took place as far back as 2004-2007,” said Mauricio Claver-Carone, director of the U.S.-Cuba Democracy PAC and observer of Cuban issues from Washington. “Thus, the biggest lesson (and warning) to those being encouraged by the new policy to play fast-and-loose with the law is that the statute of limitations does not run out when President Obama leaves office in January.”