By Anthony Boadle | Reuters
Heightened scrutiny of banking transactions by the United States since the September 11 attacks has led European and Canadian banks to curtail dealings with Cuba, bankers and businesses say.
Cuba ceased exporting armed revolution to Latin America two decades ago, but Washington still lists Communist Cuba as a “rogue” state that sponsors terrorism, along with Iran, Syria, Sudan and North Korea.
The USA Patriot Act allows U.S. authorities to confiscate assets and penalize institutions that fail to report money laundering and terrorist financing.
The result—perhaps intended—is that Western businessmen in Havana are having nightmares moving funds in dollars to and from Cuba because banks are increasingly refusing their business.
HSBC, Barclays, Credit Suisse, Royal Bank of Canada and the Bank of Nova Scotia, also known as Scotiabank, have closed accounts of Cuban companies or reduced business tied to Cuba since last year to comply with U.S. regulations.
The moves were confirmed either by the banks themselves, by Cuban officials, or by people doing business in Cuba.
“Canadian banks have told clients to close their accounts and their credit cards because they have a business address in Cuba,” said Canadian Mario Simonato, who imports vehicles and heavy equipment into Cuba.
The Havana-based owner of King City Equipment Inc. of King City, Ontario imports vehicles and equipment from Canada, but is turning to China for business due to increased hurdles placed by Canadian authorities who, he says, are bending to pressure from the United States.
I suppose this is yet another way to bully and strangle Cuba but I still don’t think this will cause Fidel to throw in the towel. The US Patriot Act scares me because of its far reaching effects. Cuba is not a terrorist state and President Bush knows that yet Cuba remains on the terrorist state list for his own political convenience.
Yet another Bush miscalculation, probably again due to bad advisers and his own stubbornness.