Airbnb Reveals Potential Noncompliance of U.S. Sanctions
17 Nov 2020

Airbnb Inc. said it made voluntary disclosures to the Treasury Department about its compliance efforts and certain user activity on its platform that may have been at odds with requirements under U.S. sanctions laws.

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

The scope of the review included activity by users in countries and territories targeted by U.S. sanctions; the company’s compliance with OFAC’s sanctions programs, particularly its business 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 final voluntary self-disclosure to OFAC in September.

A representative for the company declined to comment. An OFAC spokesperson didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

Airbnb said OFAC issued a cautionary letter with no administrative penalty regarding aspects of the company’s review concerning the Crimea region of Ukraine in July.

The Treasury unit issued cautionary letters and a no-action letter, and sought no administrative penalties from the company for disclosures involving specially designated nationals in October, according to the company’s filing.

Airbnb said in the filing that about 1,000 new hosts in Cuba offered private homestays in 2015 as U.S. travel 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 toward the nation that had led to an increase in travel between the two countries.

By Mengqi Sun, The Wall Street Journal, 16 November 2020

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