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Cuba Expands Relations with the International Financial Sector

Spanish company "Alto Cedro Finanzas Internacionales S.L." will operate in Cuba under the name "Corporación Financiera Alto Cedro, S.A. (Banco Central de Cuba logo). Photo: Wikipedia

Alto Cedro Finanzas Internacionales S.L., a Spanish corporation based in Madrid, has received approval from Cuban authorities to operate a 100% foreign capital subsidiary in Cuba. The subsidiary will be known in Cuba as “Corporacion Financiera Alto Cedro, S.A.” The approval was granted in May 2020 by the Executive Committee of Cuba’s Council of Ministers.

Corporacion Financiera Alto Cedro will be allowed to carry out all activities contemplated for non-banking institutions in the country, except for microcredit services and financial products.

It should be noted that this entity is by no means the only one of its kind operating in Cuba. Since the 1990s, Spanish financial institutions such as BBVA and Sabadell have been carrying out financial activities in Cuba.

The representative offices of foreign banks and financial institutions based in Cuba are:

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  • Novafin Financiere S.A.
  • Havin Bank Ltd.
  • National Bank of Canada
  • Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria S. A.
  • Banco Sabadell S.A.
  • Republic Bank Limited

“Alto Cedro Finanzas Internacionales S.L.” is a comparatively small financial institution, with just over 2 million Euros in capital, compared to BBVA, whose profits alone are around 2 billion Euros. Sabadell has assets that fluctuate around 26 billion Euros.

Nevertheless, Cuba’s approval of new financial entities allows the country to diversify its activities in this sector and have readily available alternatives that help it to avoid the pressures exerted by the U.S. to extinguish its access to capital.

For instance, the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has been demanding for some time that BBVA, a Spanish bank with more than 11,000 employees worldwide, explain the presence of a single employee in Cuba, that person’s job responsibilities and contacts with Cuban government officials.

Sabadell, in addition to having a representative office in Cuba, has a joint venture (“Financiera Iberoamericana S. A.”) with Cuba’s International Bank of Commerce. The ownership of the venture is split equally between Sabadell and the Cuban bank. This relationship dates back to the 1990s and has carried out thousands of operations on the island.

Cuba has been certified by GAFILAT (Financial Action Task Force of Latin America) as a country that complies with the global strategy to prevent money laundering and financing of terrorism. This allows Cuba to defend itself from US accusations in this regard.

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Note: This article has been edited to show updated translation.

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