Beyonce and Jay-Z's 2013 Cuba trip no violation of U.S. embargo

MIAMI Thu Aug 21, 2014 3:59pm EDT

MIAMI Aug 21 (Reuters) - American music industry power couple Beyonce and Jay-Z did not violate U.S. sanctions on Cuba by traveling to the communist-ruled island last year, a U.S. government review has found.

"We found no indication that U.S. sanctions were violated, and we concluded that the ... decision not to pursue a formal investigation was reasonable," said the review by the Treasury Department's Office of Inspector General dated on Wednesday.

The four-day visit in April 2013 was a cultural trip that was fully licensed by the Treasury Department, organizers said at the time.

The long-standing U.S. trade embargo against Cuba prevents most Americans from traveling to the island without a license granted by the U.S. government.

Two Cuban-American members of Congress, both Republicans representing south Florida and supporters of a firm stance on Cuba, had asked the Treasury Department for information on what type of license the couple obtained for their trip.

Beyonce and Jay-Z celebrated their fifth wedding anniversary in Havana and were greeted by big crowds as they strolled through the Cuban capital. They were instantly recognized despite the past half-century of ideological conflict that separates the two countries.

The visit was planned as a "people-to-people" cultural visit and involved no meetings with Cuban officials, or typical tourist activity such as trips to the beach, organizers said at the time.

The trip included visits with Cuban artists and musicians, as well as several nightclubs where live music was performed, and some of the city's best privately run restaurants, known as "paladares."

Beyonce and Jay-Z were among a bevy of American stars to visit the island in recent years, joining actors Bill Murray, Sean Penn and James Caan. But the pair were the first to cause such a stir everywhere they went.

While it has kept the embargo in place, the Obama administration has eased restrictions on travel to Cuba for academic, religious or cultural programs. (Reporting by David Adams; Editing by Eric Beech)

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