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Hotel Companies prepare themselves for the lawsuits for seizures in Cuba

| News | Cuban Desk

• Ignacio Aparicio talks about the impact of the unblocking of the Helms Burton Act in a report published by Cinco Días. • Thursday opens the deadline in the U.S. to claim goods confiscated by Castroism. Meliá and Iberostar are the most affected chains

Investors in Cuba are preparing to defend themselves against the avalanche of lawsuits to be filed by U.S. individuals and companies for goods expropriated by Castroism. Donald Trump's executive has gone from the threat to the facts and announced that as of May 2, title III of the Helms-Burton law will be activated, suspended since the entry into force of the law in 1996, which opens the door for the presentation of lawsuits.

Spain is one of the countries most affected by the high presence of the hotel industry in the archipelago (it manages 35,000 rooms, around 52% of the total offer). The most affected companies are Meliá and Iberostar, with 32 and 21 establishments in the archipelago, respectively.

Before the announcement of the Trump Administration, the company led by Gabriel Escarrer issued a statement a few days ago stressing that it was a mere hotel manager and not owner of property or shares of property that could be the subject of potential claim. "Meliá continues to operate with full normality in Cuba, not representing the announcement any substantial alteration of our activity," the announcement stressed.

The reality, as revealed by some law firms consulted by CincoDías, is that there is much concern among Spanish investors about the unpredictability of the new scenario. "Although the ownership of the land belongs to the Cuban mixed company, obtaining a license in the case of a hotel is proof that the property is being trafficked, as stated in the Helms-Burton law," emphasizes Ignacio Aparicio, partner of Andersen Tax & Legal and director of the firm's Cuban Desk.

For this reason, the companies are preparing their defence against the legal offensive that is approaching. In fact, the U.S. Executive already opened a first opportunity to claim on March 17, as long as two requirements were met: that the affected party had previously registered its lawsuit against an asset it considered its own and that the company or administration being sued appears on a list of assets of "restricted Cuban entities”.

But the bulk of the lawsuits will be filed as of May 2. At the Foreign Claims Settlement Commission, an agency under the US Government, around 6,000 certified claims for an estimated amount of EUR 8 billion, are registered there (between 1964 and 1972) but the overall amount is estimated to be much higher. To this first figure all the uncertified claims should be added, which will come from those Cubans exiled to the USA and which could trigger the figure for compensation to around 27 billion. "The legal battle in the case of uncertified ones will be very laborious, since they will have to prove the ownership, the line of inheritance and the value of the asset," says Aparicio.

You can read the full report in Cinco Días

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