On 6 May 2014, OFAC announced that Decolar.com, Inc. (“Decolar”), a Spanish language travel website, paid $2,809,800 to settle potential liability for apparent violations of the Cuban Assets Control Regulations. Decolar is headquartered in Buenos Aires, Argentina, but is incorporated in Delaware. OFAC alleges that, between May 2009 and March 2012, Decolar assisted 17,836 persons with hotel reservations in Cuba and flight reservations for travel between Cuba and countries other than the United States.
OFAC determined that Decolar voluntarily disclosed the matter to OFAC and that the disclosures occurred “prior to agency notice”. OFAC considered the following factors pursuant to the Economic Sanctions Enforcement Guidelines: Decolar demonstrated reckless disregard for US sanctions requirements by relying on a third-party’s oral assurances that the company’s conduct did not require a licence from OFAC, Decolar’s senior management appears to have been aware of the conduct, the apparent violations resulted in significant harm to the United States’ objectives in sanctioning Cuba, Decolar is a sophisticated travel services provider and the company had no risk-based OFAC compliance programme at the time of the apparent violations. Mitigating these factors, OFAC considered that the Cuba-related transactions appear to be a very small portion of Decolar’s overall business, Decolar has not been subject to an OFAC enforcement action in the five years previous to the earliest apparent violation, the company immediately stopped the Cuba-related services upon discovering the apparent violations, Decolar recently adopted an OFAC compliance programme and Decolar cooperated with OFAC by providing all relevant information regarding the apparent violations.