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‘Helms-Burton Act’: What to do if you receive a demand letter?

| News | Cuban Desk

Ignacio Aparicio analyses the steps that companies affected by the Helms-Burton Act should take if they receive a demand letter in an article published by Cinco Días

On May 2nd, the Helms-Burton Act came into full force, a U.S. law that allows U.S. citizens and companies whose assets or land in Cuba were confiscated and nationalized after the Castro Revolution of 1959 to sue anyone who benefits from the exploitation of expropriated property.

Since its activation, the lawsuits have not been long in coming. Currently some of those affected are the Spanish hotel group Meliá, the cruise company Carnival and Trivago, among others. Lawsuits are also expected against other companies operating on the island, such as Iberia, Iberostar, American Airlines, Société Générale, Expedia and Booking. In the case of Meliá, the petitioning family is asking for 10 million dollars.

To avoid claims or at least minimize amounts, affected companies must follow a series of steps. Thus, once you have received the letter of notice informing you, among other things, of the purpose of initiating the procedure, "the first thing the defendant must do is notify the European Commission," says Ignacio Aparicio, Andersen Tax & Legal partner.

Another relevant factor to evaluate is the company's interests in the United States. Although the EU prohibits recognizing the validity of judgments based on the Helms-Burton Act, a conviction in the U.S. "will greatly affect whoever does business in the country," Aparicio says, as he will be involved in the risk of seizing property or blocking accounts to meet the amount claimed.

 See the complete piece in Cinco Días

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