The Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) announced that, effective October 9, 2019, the Cuban Assets Control Regulations (CACR) will be amended to further restrict certain financial transactions involving Cuba and to deny Cuba access to hard currency. In a press release, OFAC announced that these changes will amend certain authorizations related to the provision of remittances to Cuba and eliminate the authorization for specific financial transactions known as “U-turn” transactions. These amendments to the CACR will:

  • Revise the U-turn general license to eliminate the authorization for banking institutions subject to U.S. jurisdiction to process U-turn transactions (e., funds transfers that originate and terminate outside the United States where neither the originator nor beneficiary is a person subject to U.S. jurisdiction). The amended U-turn general license will authorize banking institutions subject to U.S. jurisdiction to reject and not require them to block such transactions.
  • Amend the general license authorizing family remittances to (1) place a cap of $1,000 as the maximum amount that one remitter can send to one Cuban national as a family remittance per quarter, and (2) exclude close relatives of prohibited officials of the government of Cuba or close relatives of prohibited members of the Cuban Communist Party as authorized recipients of family remittances.
  • Revise the general license authorizing remittances to certain individuals and independent non-governmental organizations in Cuba to now authorize remittances to certain additional “self-employed individuals” in order to encourage the development and operation of private businesses. A “self-employed individual” means a Cuban national who satisfies one or more of the following conditions: (a) is an owner or employee of a small private business or a sole proprietorship, including restaurants (paladares), taxis and bed-and-breakfasts (casas particulares); (b) is an independent contractor or consultant; (c) is a small farmer who owns his or her own land; or (d) is a small usufruct farmer who cultivates state-owned land to sell products on the open market.
  • Eliminate the general license for donative remittances.

Secretary of the Treasury Stephen Mnuchin stated that the United States was 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” in Venezuela. The complete text of these amendments to the CACR (31 C.F.R. Part 515) is available in the Federal Register.