The Cuban Cigar Crisis

Some time ago I started a donation campaign on Indiegogo trying to get funding for the development of the basic pressure hull for space capsule Tycho Deep Space II.

I was not able to use Kickstarter because it requires a US social security number and bank account. Well, not a problem because Indiegogo does not have these requirements and are more world wide orientated.

When asking for donations you need to offer perks in various prize ranges. The perks for our campaign are services like getting you name on the website, name on capsule, space patches flown and Cuban cigars that flew with Tycho Deep Space I.

During the first 20 days we have raised almost 6.500 of 10.000 dollars. It was going really well.

Today I received an E-mail from Indiegogo. The campaign has been flagged by the US OFAC (Office of Foreign Assets Control) sanctions as set by the United States Treasury because of the word “Cuban” on the campaign site.

Now I have to explain myself and a process has begun. Can a US based fundraiser site be offering sanctioned Cuban cigars, even though they have been purchased legally in Denmark. The first cigar was claimed long time ago to someone in Denmark but since it was done through a US site it might still pose a problem.

These are the violations we are facing:
• US Government sanctions against Cuba and our campaign may be in violation of US OFAC law if activity and/or funds will be spent there.
• Our campaign may be in violation of US OFAC law if products from Cuba are offered as part of perks

I’m not sure how this will end and fear that the campaign will be stopped and Copenhagen Suborbitals will be banned for future campaigns. In that case will we be forced to move one step further away from the US in the matters for crowd funding donations.

One thing is for sure. Any Cuban cigars cannot be claimed by someone in the US or shipped to the US. So, I have just removed the last cigar perk to prevent this from happening. I now fear that we will not reach our donation goal..

It was never my intention to violate any laws. I guess I was just too naive to image a world where we could join forces and brains to go somewhere instead of holding back.

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