A report from Newsweek magazine alleges that Donald Trump and his company illegally did business in Cuba at a time when U.S. sanctions and the trade embargo prohibited such dealings.
The dealings began in 1998, according to reporter Kurt Eichenwald, when Trump’s corporate entity spent at least $68,000. Any business with Cuba was prohibited by law at the time. The report also alleges:
“With Trump’s knowledge, executives funneled the cash for the Cuba trip through an American consulting firm called Seven Arrows Investment and Development Corporation. Once the business consultants traveled to the island and incurred the expenses for the venture, Seven Arrows instructed senior officers with Trump’s company—then called Trump Hotels & Casino Resorts—how to make it appear legal by linking it after-the-fact to a charitable effort.”
In 1999, Trump gave a speech to the Cuban American National Foundation (CANF) in which he said he and his company would never do business in Cuba until Fidel Castro was removed from power. Trump was on the verge of possibly running for President on the Reform Party ticket in 2000. Here’s what he told CANF:
When contacted by Newsweek via email, the Trump campaign and Trump Organization did not respond to requests for comment on the report.
A former executive with Trump’s corporation said the company was unable obtain the necessary government license prior to the Cuba trip. Internal documents also show that executives involved in the Cuba project were still discussing the need for federal approval even after the trip had taken place. The absence of such an approval would mean that Trump and his company violated federal law.
Trump also had this to say about the situation in Cuba under Castro:
“Putting money and investing money in Cuba right now doesn’t go to the people of Cuba. It goes to Fidel Castro. He’s a murderer, he’s a killer, he’s a bad guy in every respect, and, frankly, the embargo must stand if for no other reason than, if it does stand, he will come down.”
Despite the fact that Trump may have flouted American law, there is no chance that he, the company, or any of its executives will be prosecuted for wrongdoing because the statute of limitations ran out years ago. But from a political standpoint, this new report could be catastrophic to Trump as he seeks to win the key swing state of Florida, which has a large population of Cuban emigres. It will also be interesting to see if the matter surfaces at next week’s debate.
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