Clinton says Trump may have violated US Cuba embargo

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US presidential candidate Hillary Clinton has accused Republican rival Donald Trump of breaking US law by violating an embargo on Cuba. A report alleges one of his companies tried to do business in the communist nation.

Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton told reporters that Trump’s business activities in Cuba during the 1990s proved that he “puts his personal and business interests ahead of the laws and the values and the policies of the United States of America.”

Her comments came in response to a report published in “Newsweek” on Thursday. According to the magazine, a hotel and casino company controlled by Trump had secretly tried to conduct business with Cuba when dealings with the Caribbean country were illegal under US sanctions.

“Today we learned about his efforts to do business in Cuba which appear to violate US law, certainly flout American foreign policy, and he has consistently misled people in responding to questions about whether he was attempting to do business in Cuba,” Clinton said.

Dodgy dealings?

Citing interviews with former Trump executives, court documents and internal company records, “Newsweek” said the Trump company spent at least $68,000 (60,000 euros) in 1998 while trying to get a foothold in Cuba. At the time, any corporate expenditure on the island under Fidel Castro’s regime was prohibited without US government approval.

Trump’s company didn’t spend the money directly, but instead funneled the cash through an American consulting firm, the report said. It also quoted a former Trump executive as saying a government license wasn’t granted, and that Trump was aware the trip had taken place.

Responding to the allegations on New Hampshire’s NH1 News, Trump denied wrongdoing and insisted he “never did business in Cuba.”

With the US elections less than six weeks away – on November 8 – both Clinton and Trump areseeking to score points with voters. The Cuba issue could potentially hurt Trump in the swing state of Florida, where anti-communist Cuban Americans make up a considerable portion of the electorate.

Merkel a favorite

While Trump and Clinton are battling each other on the campaign trail, the pair found a rare point of agreement on Thursday.

When asked by New England’s NECN to name a world leader he admires, Trump chose German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Despite his vocal opposition to her open-door policy on refugees, Trump said: “Merkel is a really great world leader.”

Earlier, Clinton also singled out the chancellor as someone she admired when asked the same question by reporters aboard her campaign plane in Chicago.

Merkel’s “leadership and steadiness on the Euro crisis and her bravery in the face of the refugee crisis is something that I am impressed by,” Clinton said. “I hope I’ll have the opportunity to work with her.”

nm/kl (AP, AFP, Reuters)

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