I just spent a week in Cuba. It was a remarkable experience, and not just because of all the classic cars that you see on the street.
The country is experiencing a unique period in its history. After being largely frozen in time since the Revolution, it’s clear that change is coming and likely coming fast. For many US companies, it’s no longer a question of whether they will be investing in the island country, but when. Tellingly, President Obama’s trip included representatives not just of the US government, but also of US business.
With the anticipated rush of business to Cuba in this changing environment, compliance risks tag along.
Tom Fox was there at the same time, staying at the same Havana hotel — running into each other was one of the biggest travel surprises I have ever had — and has done an excellent job blogging on the risks involved.
The good news is that one visit to Cuba is all it will take for even the most gung ho of executives to see that this is a very different economy than any other they have faced. More, with sanctions still in place companies can’t simply rush in and set up shop without running afoul of US law. Adding to the complexity, the Cuban government has its own set of requirements and bureaucracy that are, reportedly, Brobdingnagian in size and complexity.
All these impediments will, hopefully, encourage business people not to simply rush in but to act prudently. But at whatever speed the business units proceeds, the compliance team needs to be there. Otherwise it won’t be a question of whether there are problems, but when.
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