Jill Treanor | The Guardian
Banco Santander Central Hispano, the Spanish bank which owns Abbey National, has been fined $20,000 (£10,000) by the US authorities for breaching trade sanctions against Cuba.
The fine has been levied against Santander’s bank in Nassau, Bahamas, for a transfer of funds through Cuba in 2001. Information posted on the treasury department’s website showed that the Spanish bank was fined last month.
The US embargo on trading with Cuba has been in place since 1963 and firms and individuals trading with the country must keep records and provide them to the US government. Santander refused to comment on the fine and the US treasury department would not elaborate upon the sketchy details provided on its website. The website indicates that Santander did not voluntarily disclose the transaction.
Thousands of former Abbey National shareholders now own shares in the Spanish bank after the £8bn deal was completed last month despite protests from private investors at the extraordinary meeting called to ratify the takeover. Abbey investors swapped each of their shares for a Santander share plus 31p in cash.
Santander has installed its own top management into Abbey since completing the deal and Abbey’s domestic rivals are now waiting to find out whether it will become a more fierce competitor on the high street.
The US treasury department’s office of foreign assets control is responsible for policing the sanctions against Cuba which are intended to isolate the government.
Santander was fined under the range of civil penalties used by the department, which can levy financial penalties of up to $55,000 for each violation. Criminal penalties for violating the sanctions range from 10 years in prison, $1m in corporate fines and $250,000 in individual fines.