U.S. Again Relaxes Cuba Sanctions

The U.S. has instituted a series of rollbacks of its Cuba sanctions since December 2014 as part of the president’s policy to normalize U.S.-Cuba relations (see our February 5 bulletin for more detail). This latest set of changes was announced on March 15 in anticipation of the president’s upcoming trip to Cuba on March 21.  

What You Need To Know

  • Cuban-related financial transactions can now pass through U.S. financial institutions.
  • Banks can process U.S. dollar monetary instruments for authorized Cuban transactions.
  • U.S. travelers to Canada and elsewhere outside the U.S. can purchase and consume Cuban-origin products.

Effective March 16, the Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control and the Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security are implementing amendments to the Cuban Assets Control Regulations and Export Administration Regulations, which, among other things, lift the restrictions on U.S. financial institutions processing transactions in which Cuba or a Cuban national has an interest. The new provision authorizes funds transfers from a bank outside the United States that pass through one or more U.S. financial institutions before being transferred to a bank outside the United States when neither the originator nor beneficiary is a person subject to U.S. jurisdiction.

U.S. banks can now process U.S. dollar monetary instruments, including cash and travelers’ checks, in connection with authorized transactions with Cuba and Cuban nationals. Correspondent accounts at third-country financial institutions used for such transactions may be denominated in U.S. dollars.

These amendments also permit persons subject to U.S. jurisdiction to purchase or acquire Cuban-origin merchandise, including alcohol and tobacco products, while in a third country. Therefore, U.S. travelers can now legally purchase Cuban-made goods in Canada, although they may not bring such items back to the U.S.

To discuss these issues, please contact the author(s).

This publication is a general discussion of certain legal and related developments and should not be relied upon as legal advice. If you require legal advice, we would be pleased to discuss the issues in this publication with you, in the context of your particular circumstances.

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