According to a December 3rd story in the Journal News , a lawyer from Claremont Road in Scarsdale was arrested for taking a business trip to Cuba in violation of the Federal embargo. In a criminal complaint filed by the US Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York, Marc Verzani of Scarsdale is charged with travelling to Cuba with Adem Arici of Brooklyn in September. At the time the two inspected Arici’s business and real estate investments and looked for properties to purchase. Arici is said to have invested millions of dollars in Cuba. In addition, the two are charged with spending money in Cuba, a violation of U.S. law.
Federal agents arrested Verzani, age 45, and Adem Arici, age 49, of Brooklyn on Thursday December 1 and charged them with conspiring to violate the federal Trading With the Enemy Act and trying to cover up the trip to Cuba.
Arici was ordered held without bond following a hearing Thursday night in White Plains and Verzani was freed on a $1 million personal recognizance bond.
Verzani travelled to Cuba on September 8, via Cancun, Mexico and remained in Cuba for five days. According to the complaint, Verzani lied about his whereabouts on declaration papers when he returned to the U.S.
Though thousands of Americans now visit Cuba each year, they must meet one of the following criteria to visit legally. Travel is permitted for the following:
- To visit a close relative
- To work as a journalist
- To conduct government business
- For members of recognized international groups
- For research and academics
- To attend professional conferences
- For telecommunications and agricultural professionals
- For public performance or athletic competition
Legislation to lift the ban was considered by Congress in 2010 and passed the House Agriculture Committee but stalled in the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee. Proponents of lifting the ban include President Obama who hoped to open up trade with Cuba which is only 90 miles from Florida. Republican opponents of the bill believe that loosening the travel ban will ease pressure on the restrictive Cuban government and prop up an abusive regime.
It is puzzling why federal agents targeted Verzani and Arici at a time when many are calling for the travel bans to be lifted.