Hedgie Seeks Exemption To Buy Cuban Debt

Oct 17 2012 | 10:59am ET

Nathan Sandler, founder of the $2 billion Los Angeles-based hedge fund Ice Canyon, is challenging the U.S. embargo against Cuba.

Sandler, who wants the right to invest in defaulted Cuban sovereign debt, believes the play would not only be profitable, it would be in the best interests of the U.S.:

“Allowing U.S. investors to acquire Cuban debt insures U.S. interests will have a seat at the table, an inevitable part of the normalization process,” Sandler told CNBC.

The hedge fund manager has petitioned the U.S. Office of Foreign Asset Controls, which enforces the embargo, for an exemption, arguing that buying and owning debt defaulted on for more than 30 years cannot be construed as funding the current Cuban government.

Moreover, he said in a letter to government regulators, amending the payment terms of Cuban debt issued in the 1970s requires the unanimous consent of debt holders, so once a U.S. investor owned it, the OFAC would would have the legal ability to block any debt forgiveness, should it choose to.

Sandler's petition to the OFAC was rejected but he has appealed the decision.

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