Report: Donald Trump broke Cuba embargo, knowingly conducted illegal business in Communist country

The GOP nominee skirted international trade laws to establish a pre-emptive "foothold" on the island, says Newsweek

Published September 29, 2016 12:17PM (EDT)

  (AP/LM Otero)
(AP/LM Otero)

Newsweek's most recent cover story has alleged Donald Trump illegally conducted business in Communist Cuba in violation of American trade bans in the late 1990s.

The investigative report — written by Kurt Eichenwald and titled, "How Donald Trump's Company Violated the United States Embargo Against Cuba" — suggests the now-Republican presidential nominee knowingly operated in violation of the law.

"A company controlled by Donald Trump . . .  secretly conducted business in communist Cuba during Fidel Castro’s presidency despite strict American trade bans that made such undertakings illegal, according to interviews with former Trump executives, internal company records and court filings," the article said. "Documents show that the Trump company spent a minimum of $68,000 for its 1998 foray into Cuba at a time when the corporate expenditure of even a penny in the Caribbean country was prohibited without U.S. government approval."

"At the time, Americans traveling to Cuba had to receive specific U.S. government permission, which was only granted for an extremely limited number of purposes, such as humanitarian efforts," the article said. "Neither an American nor a company based in the United States could spend any cash in Cuba; instead a foreign charity or similar sponsoring entity needed to pay all expenses, including travel."

That's where a shadowy consulting firm stepped in.

The real estate mogul's company, formerly known as Trump Hotels & Casino Resorts, reportedly "funneled the cash for the Cuba trip through" U.S. consulting firm Seven Arrows Investment and Development Corporation, which "instructed senior officers with Trump’s company. . . how to make it appear legal by linking [the expenditure] after-the-fact to a charitable effort."

"On February 8, 1999, months after the consultants traveled to the island," the article added, "Seven Arrows submitted a bill to Trump Hotels for the $68,551.88 it had 'incurred prior to and including a trip to Cuba on behalf of Trump Hotels & Casino Resorts Inc.'"

"Without obtaining a license from the federal Office of Foreign Asset Control before the consultants went to Cuba, the undertaking by Trump Hotels would have been in violation of federal law," trade experts told Newsweek.

Read the full report over on Newsweek.

By Brendan Gauthier

Brendan Gauthier is a freelance writer.

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Communism Cuba Donald Trump Elections 2016 Fidel Castro Newsweek Trade Embargo