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Sanders v. Szubin

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Synopsis

Sanders v. Szubin is a lawsuit which challenges the government’s attempts at fining individuals thousands of dollars for failing to fill out a self-incriminating questionnaire, called the “Requirement to Furnish Information (RFI),” as part of its efforts to stifle American travel to Cuba. Zachary Sanders, the plaintiff in the case, has been fined an inordinate amount solely for refusing to fill out an RFI. He is represented by CCR attorneys the firm Sokolski & Zekaria, P.C.

Status

On December 6, 2011, the Judge granted the Government's Motion for Summary Judgment and denied Sanders' Motion for Summary Judgment.

On February 22, 2012, Sanders appealed the decision to the Second Circuit.

On July 24, 2012, the case settled with an agreement to pay part of the penalty, ending a fourteen year saga.

Description

The Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) requires people suspected of having traveled to Cuba to disclose detailed information about the alleged travel, under the threat of monetary penalties and potential jail time. In 2000, OFAC accused Zachary Sanders of having gone to Cuba without authorization. Sanders refused to answer OFAC’s “Requirement to Furnish Information" (RFI) letter about the trip and challenged the legality of OFAC’s actions in administrative proceedings over the course of several years.  In 2005, an administrative law judge concluded that Sanders had a right against self-incrimination, but still ordered him to pay a $1,000 fine – not for having travelled to Cuba, but for failing to acquiesce to OFAC’s demands.

Sanders appealed, as did the Government. In January 2009, on the Bush administration’s final day in office, the Department of Treasury rejected his plea and raised his penalty to $9,000.

In July 2009, Sanders filed a lawsuit against OFAC, represented by its director Adam Szubin, as well as the Department of Justice and Department of Treasury. The suit challenges Defendants policy and practice of requiring individuals to provide potentially self-incriminating information, under t threat of civil penalties, as part of their enforcement of the US embargo against Cuba.

On December 6, 2011, the Judge granted the Government's Motion for Summary Judgment and denied Sanders' Motion for Summary Judgment.

Timeline