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Airbnb settles with Treasury Department over Cuba sanctions violations

Airbnb processed a large number of payments from guests who were not authorized to travel to Cuba

January 4, 2022 9:13am

Updated: January 4, 2022 12:15pm

Airbnb reached a settlement with the U.S. Treasury Department on Monday over violations of U.S. sanctions on Cuba.

"Airbnb Payments agreed to remit $91,172.29 to settle its potential civil liability for apparent violations of sanctions against Cuba administered by the Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC),” said the department.

The violations on behalf of Airbnb included receiving payments from guests that were traveling for reasons outside of OFAC’s authorized categories and failure to keep records of Cuba-related transactions.

After an OFAC request, Airbnb conducted a review of transactions associated to stays and “experiences” in Cuba.

Airbnb found that between September 28, 2015 and March 1, 2020, they received payments from 3,464 stays of guests who had traveled for reasons outside of the authorized categories. The average amount for each stay was $139.52.

The company also recorded 3,076 transactions for “experiences” that did not comply with OFAC regulations. The average transaction for each “experience” was $78.40.

"We take sanctions compliance very seriously. We are pleased to have reached this agreement with OFAC," an Airbnb spokesperson said in a statement on Monday.

Airbnb started operating in Cuba in 2015. Travel to Cuba, however, remains prohibited by statute. Currently, OFAC issues licenses for 12 categories of travel: “family visits; official business of the U.S. government, foreign governments, and certain intergovernmental organizations; journalistic activity; professional research and professional meetings; educational activities; religious activities; public performances, clinics, workshops, athletic and other competitions, and exhibitions; support for the Cuban people; humanitarian projects; activities of private foundations or research or educational institutes; exportation, importation, or transmission of information or informational materials; and certain authorized export transactions.”