Cuba-U.S. banking agreement

The establishment of a correspondent agreement with the BICSA expands an action initiated by the Stonegate Bank when it accepted taking over the banking transactions of the Interests Section that would later become the Cuban Embassy in Washington.

Los bancos de EEUU y de Cuba firmaron un convenio de corresponsalía que comienza a enlazar a ambos países en un actividad que constituye sostén imprescindible para el comercio.

Foto: Tomada de aldia.cu

The Cuban Banco Internacional de Comercio S.A. (BICSA) and the Florida-based Stonegate Bank confirmed an agreement that eases one of the most tenacious obstacles of the U.S. economic blockade on Cuba in recent years. Both sides announced the correspondent agreement last July 21, one day after the reestablishment of diplomatic relations between both countries and the corresponding opening of embassies.

The banking agreement, the first since both countries announced the reestablishment of diplomatic ties on December 17 last year, will provide for direct payments and transactions between the two nations through their respective branches. And in fact it becomes a new window for commercial and financial rapprochement.

 

In a communiqué, the Florida-based bank defined it as one more step in the normalisation of U.S.-Cuba commercial relations. And undoubtedly a key step because due to its functions it will become a bridge for travel and business connections from the country where this bank is based, geared at providing investments and assets.

 

Dave Seleski, president of Stonegate, said in a communiqué that being able to easily move money between the two countries will provide for increasing trade and will benefit U.S. companies wishing to do business in Cuba.

 

He added that the correspondent accounts allow for operating through international borders and moving money on behalf of its clients.

 

Meanwhile, the Cuban daily Granma warned that “it is a correspondent understanding, very common between banks for processing operations.”

 

Two months ago the Stonegate had taken a previous step. Though there was not a lack of surprise comments this time because of the agreement with BICSA, the Stonegate had already signed last May an agreement with the Cuban Interests Section in Washington, which on July 20 became an embassy. This agreement eliminated one of the many obstacles existing for the normalisation of relations between the two countries. For a year the Cuban mission hadn’t had a banking entity on U.S. soil to carry out its usual transactions, ever since the M&T Bank Corp. cancelled the services it provided to the Interests Section.

 

In recent years the U.S. economic blockade has especially taken it out on the area of Cuba’s banking activities abroad. Third countries’ major banks have been strongly sanctioned by Washington for maintaining financial, commercial or credit relations with Havana.

 

Just four months ago, the Federal Reserve and the Treasury Department announced that Germany’s second largest bank, the Commerzbank, accepted to pay a fine of 1.71 billion dollars for violating the ban established by the United States on transactions with Cuba, Iran or Sudan and money-laundering operations. That sanction, the 41st imposed on banks during the government of Barack Obama, was only surpassed by the fine imposed in 2014 on the French bank BNP Paribas for 8.97 billion dollars for participating in Cuba’s financial transactions.

 

Faced by this, the correspondent agreement between Stonegate and the BICSA opens a new door. (2015)

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