Bush regime fines biotech firm for selling infant vaccines to Cuba

Campaign News | Thursday, 8 July 2004

Lifesaving medicine is banned for sale to the island

San Francisco July 8 - The US Biotechnology company Chiron Corp. has been fined $168,500 by the Bush regime for selling infant vaccines to Cuba.

The California-based company voluntarily disclosed to the US Treasury department of Foreign Assetts Control (OFAC) that a European subsidiary shipped two vaccines for infants to Cuba between 1999 and 2002.

Under the illegal extra-territorial provisions of the Helms Burton law of 1996 it is against US law for US-owned foreign subsidiaries to trade with Cuba.

"It was an inadvertent shipment on our part," said Chiron spokesman John Gallagher. He said Chiron is licensed to ship one type of paediatric vaccine through UNICEF to Cuba but inadvertently shipped two others not approved by the US government.

Gallagher said Chiron reported the shipping error to the OFAC, which enforces the United States' 42-year-old blockade on Cuba and other economic sanctions against six other countries.

It's the second highest fine OFAC announced this year and the highest by a U.S.-based company. Panama City-based Alpha Pharmaceutical Inc. agreed to a $198,700 fine for also trading with Cuba.

In all, OFAC announced this year that 122 companies violated economic sanctions and were fined a total of $1.97 million for doing business with Cuba, Iran, Iraq, Libya, North Korea, Sudan and Syria. Most of the violations involved dealings with Cuba.

What's more, 226 people have been fined a combined $348,000 this year for travel and currency violations. All but one of those people, who OFAC declined to identify, were fined for transactions involving Cuba.

OFAC was criticized earlier this year by senators from both political parties for dedicating more resources to enforcing the embargo against Cuba than in blocking terrorists' finances.

The agency supplied figures to the US Senate that showed that at the end of 2003, OFAC had 21 full-time agents working Cuba violations and just four full-time workers hunting bin Laden's and Saddam's riches.

Since April 2003, OFAC has been publishing the names of companies it has fined, which have included Playboy Enterprises Inc., the New York Yankees and Wal-Mart Stores Inc.

On the Net:


Office of Foreign Assets Control: www.ustreas.gov/offices/eotffc/ofac/

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