In a story in yesterday’s Washington Post, a McAuliffe campaign official said that Terry McAuliffe could not produce legally-required Cuba travel reports for a 2010 trip to Cuba because “they no longer had copies.” I wonder if these folks knew before answering that the law requires that these documents be retained for five (5) years? You can read our prior posts on this subject here, here and here.
The issue is not that McAuliffe led a delegation to Cuba to sell agricultural products. This is legal and has been allowed under the law for some time. However, Cuba is a special market that requires heightened compliance by U.S. persons. Cuba is a state sponsor of terror and human rights abuser, for starters. Official corruption by high-ranking regime officials is the norm. The Cuba regulations are in place to help U.S. companies carefully navigate this market. The last thing you’d want to do is engage in transactions involving specially designated nationals (SDNs for short) or blocked properties.
The compliance rules for these trips are fairly simple and clear, travelers “shall” (not may) provide what is called a “31 CFR 515.533(e) Report” to the Treasury Department Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) 14 days before and 14 days after the journey. This accounting describes the business activities conducted, who you met with, and the expenses incurred during the trip.
Why not put these Cuba stories to rest and ask one of the other travelers for a copy (everyone who travels needs to report and the law allows for combined reporting) or, better yet, ask the U.S. Government to provide a copy?
More to come …
P.S., if your a Virginia grower or in the wine business, there are plenty of other markets throughout Central America and the Caribbean for your products. I’m talking about doing business in democracies where financing is allowed (Cuba transactions must be completed on a cash basis — Cuba is billions of dollars in debt, and climbing). I was recently in Panama on business and visited a few places that would welcome Virginia spirits of all types. Same for Costa Rica. Shop around. Cuba is a political, business, legal, and regulatory minefield.