U.S. lifts sanctions on Colombian soccer team

The United States on Wednesday lifted sanctions on a Colombian soccer team as it has broken its ties to the Cali drug cartel.

The Department of Treasury removed America de Cali, a Colombian professional soccer team also known as Corporacion Deportiva America, from its list of Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons (SDN).

The agency blacklisted the team in June 1999 for being owned by Cali leaders Miguel and Gilberto Rodriguez Orejuela and other targeted persons. But the team recently completed a process of restructuring and bankruptcy procedures which the Treasury said was "transparent."

"The results of this process demonstrated that America de Cali has cut its ties with designated parties, allowing Treasury to proceed with removing the team from the SDN List," the Treasury said in a statement.

The move allows American citizens to do business with the team and unfreezes all of its assets under U.S. jurisdiction.

"Today's lifting of the designation of America de Cali is a testament to the enormous efforts made in recent years by both the team and the Colombian government to completely break with the criminal influences that have overshadowed the team in the past," said David Cohen, under secretary of Treasury for terrorism and financial intelligence.

"As we continue our work with the Colombian government to combat the threat of narcotics trafficking, we will use our authorities to target those responsible for illicit behavior just as we will lift sanctions in cases where there has been a concrete change in behavior," he added.