September 6, 2019: OFAC updates Cuban regulations, FAQs

Publication of Updated Cuban Assets Control Regulations (CACR) and Frequently Asked Questions

The Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) is amending the Cuban Assets Control Regulations, 31 C.F.R. part 515 (CACR), to further implement portions of the President’s foreign policy toward Cuba.  In accordance with announced changes related to remittances and certain kinds of financial transactions, OFAC is amending the CACR to: i) revise certain authorizations for remittances to Cuba to impose new requirements and limitations; and ii) revise the authorization commonly known as the “U-turn” general license to eliminate the authorization for banking institutions subject to U.S. jurisdiction to process certain kinds of financial transactions.  The CACR amendment will be published in the Federal Register on Monday, September 9, 2019 and will take effect on October 9, 2019.  OFAC is also publishing a number of updated Frequently Asked Questions and a Fact Sheet pertaining to this regulatory amendment.

The updated FAQs are part of that separate Cuba FAQ document (as opposed to being on OFAC’s FAQ page).

And Treasury issued a press release, which appears to be identical to the Fact Sheet:

PRESS RELEASES

Treasury Issues Changes to Strengthen Cuba Sanctions Rules

WASHINGTON – Today, the Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) amended the Cuban Assets Control Regulations (CACR) to further implement President Trump’s June 2017 National Security Presidential Memorandum (NSPM) Strengthening the Policy of the United States Towards Cuba.  The changes amend certain authorizations related to the provision of remittances to Cuba and eliminate the authorization for specific financial transactions known as “U-turn” transactions.

“We are taking additional steps to financially isolate the Cuban regime.  The United States holds the Cuban regime accountable for its oppression of the Cuban people and support of other dictatorships throughout the region, such as the illegitimate Maduro regime,” said Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.  “Through these regulatory amendments, Treasury is denying Cuba access to hard currency, and we are curbing the Cuban government’s bad behavior while continuing to support the long-suffering people of Cuba.”

These actions mark an ongoing commitment to implement the President’s Cuba policy.  Previously, on June 5, 2019, OFAC further restricted non-family travel to Cuba by removing an authorization for group people-to-people educational travel, pursuant to an April 17, 2019 foreign policy announcement.  The Treasury changes announced today will take effect on October 9, 2019, which is 30 days from the date the regulations will be published in the Federal Register.

For the latest changes to the Treasury regulations, which can be found at 31 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) part 515.  Major elements of the changes in the revised regulations include:

REMITTANCES

                                                                              

  • Family remittances:  OFAC is placing a cap of $1,000 U.S. dollars per quarter that one remitter can send per quarter to one Cuban national, and is prohibiting remittances to close family members of prohibited Cuban officials and members of the Cuban Communist Party.

 

  • Donative remittances:  OFAC is eliminating the authorization for donative remittances.  

 

  • Remittances to certain individuals and independent non-governmental organizations in Cuba:  OFAC is adding a provision authorizing such remittances to support the operation of economic activity in the non-state sector by self-employed individuals, in light of the NSPM’s policy to encourage the growth of the Cuban private sector independent of government control.
     

 “U-TURN” TRANSACTIONS

 

  • OFAC is removing the authorization for banking institutions subject to U.S. jurisdiction to process certain funds transfers originating and terminating outside the United States, commonly known as “U-turn” transactions.  Banking institutions subject to U.S. jurisdiction will be authorized to reject such transactions, but may no longer process the transactions.

And the State Department didn’t want to be left out of the fun:

Today, the Department of the Treasury took action to prevent U.S. remittances to Cuba from enriching Cuban regime insiders and their families and to restrict Cuba’s access to the U.S. financial system.

Going forward, U.S. persons are no longer allowed to send family remittances to close relatives of prohibited officials of the Government of Cuba or close relatives of prohibited members of the Cuban Communist Party.  U.S. persons will also no longer be allowed to send donative remittances, or remittances regardless of familial relationships, to Cuba.

In line with the President’s foreign policy on Cuba, these actions are designed to target the Cuban regime while continuing to provide vital relief to the long-suffering people of Cuba.  As National Security Advisor Bolton said in April, “we know that families in the United States want to help their loved ones in Cuba, and we want Cubans to get the support they need and deserve…we know that these remittances are critical to families.”  For this reason, remittances to support family members are permitted up to $1,000 per quarter per person, and remittances to private businesses, human rights groups, religious organizations, and other self-employed individuals operating in the non-state sector are authorized with no cap at this time.

The Department of the Treasury also restricted the Cuban regime’s access to the U.S. financial system by eliminating authorization for what are commonly known as “U-turn” transactions, funds transfers that originate and terminate outside the U.S. where neither the originator nor beneficiary is a person subject to U.S. jurisdiction.

The United States continues to hold Cuba accountable for its repression of the Cuban people, its interference in Venezuela, and its unconscionable support of the illegitimate former Maduro regime.  Despite widespread international condemnation, Maduro continues to undermine his country’s institutions and subvert the Venezuelan people’s right to self-determination.  Empowered by Cuba, he has created a humanitarian disaster that destabilizes the region.

For more information on the regulations, please refer to the following Department of the Treasury page:

https://www.treasury.gov/resource-center/sanctions/Programs/Pages/cuba.aspx

For further information, please contact WHA Press at WHA_Press@state.gov and EB Press at EB-A-PD-DL@state.gov.

Links:

OFAC Notice

Cuban Assets Control Regulations

Frequently Asked Questions

Fact Sheet

Treasury Press Release

State Department Press Release

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