Posted on Monday, 07.22.13
American Express agrees to Cuba travel settlement
BY CHRISTINE ARMARIO
MIAMI — American Express has reached a settlement with the U.S.
Treasury Department over more than 14,000 tickets that were issued for
travel between Cuba and countries outside the U.S., officials announced
American Express Travel Related Services, Inc. has agreed to pay $5.2
million to settle potential civil liability for apparent federal
violations. The Treasury Department found that foreign branch offices
and subsidiaries of American Express issued about 14,487 tickets for
travel to and from the island between December 2005 and November 2011.
Those bookings were an apparent violation of the Cuban Assets Control
Regulations. The rules issued in 1963 prohibit financial transactions by
banking institutions under U.S. jurisdiction in which Cuba or its
citizens have an interest.
“We voluntarily self-disclosed these bookings to OFAC (Office of Foreign
Assets Control), and put in place robust controls to ensure it would not
recur,” American Express spokeswoman Diana Postemsky said in a written
American Express can provide travel service arrangements for authorized
trips to the island, but the bookings in question were never approved by
the federal government.
It’s not the first time American Express has come under federal scrutiny
for its handling of Cuba-related travel. The company was investigated in
1995 and 1996 for similar violations committed by a subsidiary that had
recently been acquired, according to the Treasury Department.
Federal officials said American Express showed “reckless disregard” for
“The apparent violations caused significant harm to U.S. sanctions
program objectives regarding Cuba,” the Treasury Department said in
announcing the settlement.
The Treasury Department said American Express continued to book travel
to and from Cuba for many of its corporate clients following the 2010
disclosure of the violations. The department said the company also never
implemented the remedial measures it pledged to implement after the 1995
and 1996 investigation.
American Express is one of the largest travel service providers for
authorized Cuba travel, according to the Treasury Department.
U.S. citizens are prohibited from traveling to Cuba as tourists, though
they can travel for religious, educational or cultural visits if granted
a specific license by the Treasury Department. So called
“people-to-people” travel was reinstated by the Obama administration in
Source: “MIAMI: American Express agrees to Cuba travel settlement –
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