The United States Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (“OFAC”) is becoming more and more generous with their guidance these days. Yesterday, OFAC released the 2012 Circular which provides an overview of the licensing and compliance requirements for those seeking to gain authorization under the Cuba Travel, Carrier, and Remittance Forwarder Service Provider Program. As those reading this blog may be aware, OFAC does indeed issue licenses to U.S. persons so that they can provide travel services, carriers services, and remittance forwarding services to Cuba despite the prohibitions imposed by the Cuban Assets Control Regulations. OFAC has issued similar circulars before, however, yesterday’s release seems to be much more thorough and better organized than those released previously.
The new circular provides information on the OFAC Cuba Travel, Carrier, and Remittance Forwarder Service Program’s application process, the limitations on those operating under such licenses, the general obligations those licensee must fulfill, and guidance on how service provider employees are to transact in Cuba. Moreover, the guidance discusses the ramifications of failing to comply with the requirements of the 2012 Circular, such as being subjected to a background investigation, revising forms and procedures for Cuba related business, and the undergoing of training on the service provider program.
OFAC’s guidance is well timed and much needed. Although there was a lot of good information in the previous circulars, this one seems less and ambiguous and comes complete with a number of forms and suggested formats for those filings to be made both in the Cuba service provider application process, as well as for compliance with OFAC’s record keeping requirements. The timing is also good because a number of U.S. entities seeing the success of people to people licenses and other license holders under the service program are being to become interested in getting involved in the Cuba service provider area. In order to make the program more manageable both for the applicants and for OFAC, the 2012 Circular does a great job spelling out ambiguities from previous releases and providing standardization in an otherwise free form process.
The author of this blog is Erich Ferrari, an attorney specializing in OFAC matters. If you have any questions please contact him at 202-280-6370 or firstname.lastname@example.org.