US fines French firm for doing business with Cuba

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Havana, Feb 24 (IANS) The US Treasury Department has fined a French firm for doing business in US equipment with Cuba in violation of the United State trade embargo against the Caribbean island nation.

CGG Services, a company specialising in geophysical services, was slapped with a fine of $614,250 for using “spare parts and equipment of US origin on oil and gas exploration vessels operating in Cuban territorial waters,” Xinhua cited a Cuban daily as reporting.

The move came against the background of a diplomatic thaw between Washington and Havana, which announced in December 2014 their intention to normalise ties and just days after the first US company was given the green light to set up a factory in Cuba to make farm tractors.

Washington has yet to lift its 55-year-old embargo against Cuba, which calls it a blockade as it prohibits third countries from transacting with Cuba.

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“The fine is yet another example of the extraterritorial scope of the blockade and its deterrent effect on foreign and even US companies,” the report said.

The fine is also “inconsistent with the current context of relations between the two countries and demonstrates that in order to make real progress towards the normalisation of bilateral ties, the blockade must be lifted,” it added.

Since December 2014, the US government has fined seven companies — four from the US — more than $2.8 billion for violating its trade embargo.

Such fines levied since the start of US President Barack Obama’s administration in 2009 amount to $14.4 billion.

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