By Darrel Pearson, Lincoln Caylor, Jessica Horwitz, Julie Wilson | Bennett Jones LLP
In a reversal of long-standing U.S. policy, any person or entity with business operations or relationships in Cuba may soon face civil liability in the United States.
On April 17, 2019, the Trump administration announced that it would not extend the suspension of the right to bring an action under Title III of the Cuban Liberty and Democratic Solidarity (LIBERTAD) Act of 1996, better known as the Helms-Burton Act, beyond the end of the existing suspensions on May 1, 2019.
Following the expiry of the existing suspensions, any person who “traffics” in property that was confiscated by the Cuban government on or after January 1, 1959, may face liability for the full value of the confiscated property, in some cases times three. The definition of trafficking under Title III is very broad, and includes engaging in commercial activity using or otherwise benefitting from confiscated property; among other things, this could include using landing strips at airports, leasing hotels, and holding docking rights in ports. Actions under Title III of Helms-Burton may be brought for two years after the trafficking giving rise to the action has ceased to occur.
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