Expedia Fined $325,000 for Breaching Travel Sanctions to Cuba
Expedia Group, the digital travel industry conglomerate has agreed to pay $325,406 to the U.S. government for breaching Cuban travel sanctions between 2011 and 2014.
According to a memo released by the treasury department on Thursday, Expedia subsidiaries assisted 2,221 people, including Cuban nationals with travel-related services with travel between the U.S. and Cuba, or within Cuba and beyond. The services were in violation of Cuban Assets Control Regulations that were first established in 1963 and were offered prior to the easing of travel restrictions during “Cuban thaw,” which began under the Obama Administration at the end of 2014.
The treasury department stated that foreign subsidiaries of the Seattle-area company that “lacked an understanding of and familiarity with U.S. economic sanctions laws” were responsible for the violation, adding “Expedia employees overlooked particular aspects of Expedia’s business that presented risks of noncompliance with sanctions.” Expedia Group owns U.S. based websites CheapTickets, Expedia, Hotels, Hotwire, Orbitz in addition to foreign-based Trivago, Venere and Wotif.
The company voluntarily disclosed the violations to the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), and after learning of the violations, the treasury department stated that “Expedia implemented significant remedial measures to strengthen its U.S. economic sanctions compliance program throughout the Expedia corporate family” and that the company cooperated with the OFAC investigations.
Expedia did not respond to TIME’s request for comment.
The news comes at a time when U.S.-Cuban relations are stiffening under President Trump’s reneging of Obama-era negotiations with the Caribbean nation. Last Tuesday, Trump announced new restrictions on travel to Cuba from the U.S., barring cruise ships from visiting the country and banning “People to People” travel. This includes organized tour groups, one of the primary ways U.S. citizens have visited Cuba.