When you decide to engage in business with a criminal enterprise, you know there are huge risks involved. However, in the case of Cuba’s dictatorship, the international community has eliminated most of the risks involved in doing business with a criminal regime. For decades, companies doing business in Cuba have been able to traffic in stolen property, engage in human trafficking, and purchase slave labor from the Castro government with relative impunity.
But it appears that impunity is melting away.
With the arrival of the Trump administration, international companies who have chosen to do business with Cuba’s corrupt and murderous Castro dictatorship are beginning to pay a high price for their choices. If you want to do business with the U.S. and Cuba’s murderous regime, the price just got a lot more expensive.
With the strengthening of the U.S. foreign policy toward Cuba, European companies with worldwide subsidiaries are navigating a high-risk environment and some are having to pay big for their employees’ mistakes.
As of Monday, the U.S. Department of Treasury reported there were more than $1.2 billion in settlement agreements over civil penalties just in April, when the U.S. Treasury’s total in 2018 was about $71.5 million.
In one of the cases, Acteon Group Ltd., a specialist subsea services company based out of England, is accused of providing services for oil drilling projects in Cuban waters. Investigators said there is evidence a former executive instructed an administrative employee “to replace the words ‘Cuba’ or ‘Cuban’ with ‘Central America’ or ‘Central American’ in a company report.
Other companies with settlements over apparent violations of the U.S. embargo against Cuba are UniCredit Bank, a German financial institution, Standard Chartered Bank, a United Kingdom financial institution, and AppliChem GmbH, a German pharmaceutical company.
Naturally, the usual suspects will come out and call this an attack on free markets and freedom. To do so, however, they must pervert the definition of a “free market” to include purchasing stolen property and engaging in slave labor. For a free market to exist, all parties in a transaction must be free.