Airbnb Reveals Potential Noncompliance of U.S. Sanctions

HAVANA, Nov. 17th Airbnb Inc. said it voluntarily disclosed to the Treasury Department its compliance efforts and certain user activity on its platform that may have been at odds with the requirements of U.S. sanctions laws.

The San Francisco-based home-sharing company said it had carried out an internal review and was in talks with the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control, which enforces U.S. economic and trade sanctions, according to the public offering documents. initial filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission on Monday.

The scope of the review included user activity in countries and territories subject to US sanctions; the company’s compliance with OFAC’s sanctions programs, in particular, its activities in Cuba; and the company’s compliance with restrictions on transactions with specially designated nationals, Airbnb said in the filing.

Airbnb said it submitted the results of its internal review in a voluntary final self-disclosure to OFAC in September.

The Treasury unit issued warning letters and a no-action letter and did not request any administrative penalties from the company for disclosures involving specially designated nationals in October, according to the company’s file.

Airbnb said on the record that around 1,000 new hosts in Cuba offered homestays in 2015 as travel from the United States to the country flourished.

After President Trump was sworn in in 2017, his administration increased economic pressure on Cuba, reversing the previous shift under President Obama to a more open stance towards the nation that had led to increased travel between the two countries.

OFAC is continuing to review Airbnbs’ disclosure of its activities in Cuba, according to the filing. Airbnb said in the file that it remains in close contact with the agency and that, depending on the agency’s assessment, the company could face civil penalties and monetarily significant litigation.

The company said it was checking all of its hosts and guests against regulatory, terrorist and sanction watchlists to increase the security of all parties.
( www.wsj.com )