FROM LIECHTENSTEIN TO HONG KONG: HOW CUBA USES SHELL COMPANIES TO THUMB ITS NOSE AT EMBARGO
MARCH 31, 2021 07:30 AM, UPDATED
APRIL 01, 2021 05:50 PM
Large cranes can be seen at Port Mariel inside the Mariel Special Economic Development Zone.
A generic-sounding company headquartered in the tax
haven of Liechtenstein has for the past 37 years served as the center of global
shipping operations for the Cuban government, functioning under the radar while
skirting a six-decade trade embargo, an investigation by the Miami Herald/el
Nuevo Herald and McClatchy shows.
When incorporated in 1984 in the principality of
Liechtenstein, Acemex Management Company Limited was created as a means of
survival. It grew into a business model, has been described as the work of a
genius and has proved enduring.
A new Miami Herald/el Nuevo Herald investigation
reveals the network of hidden shell companies and secretive jurisdictions that
allowed Fidel and Raúl Castro and now their military successors to borrow money
and to buy, sell and charter the ships that bring in chemicals, fuel and
construction supplies needed to build the growing tourism sector and export
The findings build on earlier reporting published
in February as part of a global investigative collaboration called OpenLux, which spotlighted how the
small European nation of Luxembourg was used as a camouflage for Cuban maritime operations.
The new investigation sheds light on little-known Acemex and the key players surrounding it — a pair of powerful Cuban brothers not named Fidel and Raúl, but Guillermo Faustino Rodriguez López-Calleja and hisyounger sibling Luis Alberto. The latter is a brigadier generalblacklisted by the United States in 2020.