Dutch bank fined $619m for breaking blockade legislation

News from Cuba | Saturday, 30 June 2012

The Dutch bank ING has been fined $619m for violating U.S. sanctions against Cuba in what the US Treasury Department called the “largest ever settlement reached in a sanctions case.”

A statement by Adam Szubin, Director of the US Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) declared that the “historic settlement should serve as a clear warning to anyone who would consider profiting by evading US sanctions.”

The fine follows a report by OFAC from July 2006 which declared that a Cuban-based subsidiary of ING - the Netherlands Caribbean Bank (NCB) - was in violation of extraterritorial US sanctions against Cuba. ING held a 50% share in the NCB with the other 50% owned “by two financial institutions of the Cuban state”.

According to the Treasury’s press release, ING moved money through the US financial system for Cuban clients and attempted to hide its involvement by deleting information regarding the transactions. ING was charged with violating the International Emergency Economic Powers Act - which empowers the President to regulate international trade in reaction to foreign threats - and the Trading with the Enemy Act.

Cuba’s Ministry of Foreign Relations condemned the action as “an insult to the universal demand to the United States to end its policy of blockade against Cuba”. The statement also criticised the “threatening and disrespectful language” used by OFAC which demonstrated the “extraterritorial and interfering character of the United States policy.”

The steep fine follows similar sanctions in 2010 when the ABN AMRO bank (now the Royal Bank of Scotland) and Barclays were fined $500m and $298m respectively for transactions with Cuba.

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