Scottish Bank Fined for Doing Business with Iran and Cuba

The  Royal Bank of Scotland is the latest on a long list of institutions fined for doing business with Iran and Cuba.
The Royal Bank of Scotland is the latest on a long list of institutions fined for doing business with Iran and Cuba.

HAVANA TIMES — The Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) agreed to pay $100 million US dollars for violation of US sanctions on Iran, Sudan, Burma and Cuba.

In a statement issued RBS said it “deeply regrets” its violations of the sanctions and promised greater controls in the future.

The US Treasury Department is on an offensive against companies doing business with the above mentioned countries. Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group Inc., HSBC Holdings Plc (HSBA), Standard Chartered Plc (STAN) and ING Bank NV are some of those forced to pay heavy fines in recent years.

“We remain resolute in enforcing our comprehensive sanctions against Iran, and we will continue to take aggressive action against those who would flout our law,” David Cohen, undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence told Bloomberg.

Cuba has long been on the black list that the US tries to enforce on third country’s companies.


22 thoughts on “Scottish Bank Fined for Doing Business with Iran and Cuba

  • That’s one hell of a Potemkin village. I’ve spent probably close to a total of two years in Cuba since 1993, far from any “handlers” , with a Cuban wife to boot – and speak fluent Cubano, and I still haven’t seen the hellhole you describe as bein Cuba.

  • You have an amusingly inflated estimation of the significance of a handful of commenters on HT if you think the US government pays people like Moses to troll these pages pretending to be a black man married to a CUban woman.

    The reason most US travellers to Cuba return as apologists for the Castro dictatorships is because most of them are left-leaning to begin with (that’s why they decide to go to Cuba), and because most US tour groups are operated by highly motivated pro-Castro activists, minded by Cuban handlers from the Ministry of the interior. These tours amount to organized tours of a tropical Potemkin village.

    If Americans were permitted to travel independently, as I did, staying at casa particulars, eating at paladars, and hiring my own cab drivers and tour guides, they would see a much more accurate picture of Cuba as it really is.

  • This isn’t about US foreign policy, it is about US banking laws. If you want the benefit of banking access to the US market, you have to obey US laws. Cuba is free to do business with those banks that have no interest in doing business in the US. Obama relaxed those aspects of US policy that he was able to do by Executive Order without Congressional approval. Your more sinister rationale for these changes really is purely coincidental. The fact that the embargo has not instigated political reform does call into question the effectiveness of the strategy but it’s a reach to call the embargo “stupid”. Finally, while those who have hoped for “regime change” in Cuba truly have been longsuffering, Father Time is finally on our side. Real change is really, really “round the corner”.

  • Dan, you sound like my wife complaining about my time spent commenting on HT. Of course, I work for living. I have to because I support my extended family in Cuba. Please send my whatever links you have to government sponsors who would be interested in paying me to do this. Ojala! that I could get paid to straighten folks like you out about the Cuban reality.

  • Griffen, I don’t “need” Moses to be a USAID paid commenter b/c he hates Cuba. Plenty of Americans (though few black ones) fall into that category out of sheer ignorance and indoctrination. It’s b/c of the amount of time he spends commenting. Are you unaware of these government sponsored astroturfers and journalists ? As far as your “brutal dictatorship” goes, you ought to keep in mind the slip by the head of the USINT about 10 or 15 years ago when he admitted that travel by US citizens to the island tended to make them oppose US policy when they return to the US. Most Cubans as well as visitors, that I know would never call the government brutal.

  • I can’t see what there is to cheer about a Scottish bank being forced to follow US foreign policy. I’d like to comment on a few things though. I agree with you that genocide isn’t an appropriate term to use and it is inconsistent in its enforcement, but it is strange to use that as a justification for its existence. But let’s look at the various aspects – allowing of Cuba to purchase food and some medicines. This is a one way trade and was illegal anyway. Unlimited remittances – though right has the adverse effect that it creates wealth differences not based on merit and a culture of dependency. This seems to be intentional. Increased tourism – though a necessary evil, creates a culture of Jineterismo (metaphorically speaking). Again this seems intentional. None of these do much for a sustainable economy. What Cuba needs is to increase its agricultural and industrial production and lessen its dependence on imports. This requires investment and access to markets, both of which the embargo severely hampers. Again this seems intentional – severely cripple the economy, but leave some things go through that are only beneficial to the US or are likely to destabilise the country and also give the US a get out clause. And the most stupid thing is that the embargo though causing much economic hardship has not done anything to instigate political change (in fact has probably done the opposite). Finally, you are a bit like a Jehova’s Witness always saying that a regime collapse is round the corner. It is unproductive to base a policy on what may or may not happen in the future. All guesses are likely to be wrong. The issues need to be dealt with now.

  • Interesting. Not exactly as you wrote, but close. RBS is wholly owned by RBS Group, and the UK gov’t took a 58% interest in RBS Group in 2008 following the financial crisis. RBS Group owns interests in banks all over the world, including Citizen FInancial Group in the US and the Bank of China. So given that RBS Group has significant business in the US, they cannot afford to flaunt US laws.

  • FYI Dan, Moses is indeed African-American and his wife is Cuban. But you got one thing right: Moses is well informed on the subject of Cuba.

    It’s pathetic how you and your fellow Castro apologists and bootlickers “need” people like Moses and myself to be CIA plants or USAID agents. It’s inconceivable to you that ordinary citizens can see the Castro regime for what it is: a brutal, inhuman dictatorship.

  • Moses likely works for Freedom House or some such other Anti-Cuba NGO contractor receiving USAID money. He certainly doesn’t hold down a job since he posts constantly. He has any “fact” he needs about Cuba or the world at his fingertips. He flaunts his alleged blackness, all the better to distance himself from the white establishment, historically hostile to Cuba. He is not even Cuban. What would be the source of such consuming hatred of the Cuban government that drives him to spend the whole day posting here ? If he were truly concerned about human rights and justice there are certainly many more deserving countries he could focus on.

  • It’s revealing to read the details of the violations RBS has plead guilty to:

    “RBS employees in the UK “received written instructions containing a step-by-step guide on how to create and route US dollar payment messages involving sanctioned entities through the United States to avoid detection”.

    In total, more than 3,500 transactions, totalling approximately $523m, were routed through New York banks in violation of US sanctions.”

    Clearly, the bank intentionally engaged in an organized pattern of deception, fully aware that what they were doing was illegal. This practice was not only with regard to Cuba, but also Iran, Burma and Sudan.

    It is interesting to see how those countries, and often North Korea and Belarus, are so often found involved in these sanctions busting trade & banking cases. The sanctions they violate are not only the US embargo on Cuba, but UN imposed sanctions on other countries. This was a clear pattern of cynical and unethical behaviour on the part of RBS bank.

  • How about the Castro’s life their boots from the necks of the Cuban people? That seems a reasonable and humane request.

  • The US and the UK did impose sanctions on China in 1949 and kept them on for many years. When China agreed to settling the outstanding issues which lead to the sanctions, these were lifted.

    So it is with Cuba. When Cuba meets the conditions, the sanctions can be lifted.

    Ask Nelson Mandela? He led a guerilla war against the apartheid regime for 3 decades. So in fact, you can say that he did indeed threaten and bully his way to a solution. By the way, Mandela also supported economic sanctions against South Africa.

  • What does it mean then? If Americans don’t help the internal opposition fight for their freedom, who will? The Castros, like all tyrants before them, won’t just walk away because of term limits. Aren’t you paying attention to what is going on? People’s lives are destroyed simply because they disagree with the Castros. It is not the boot of the US that Cubans feel on their necks. It is the Castros boot.

  • Demanding the US to take her boot of the neck of the Cuban people does not mean approving the way the Castro’s run Cuba

  • “Albeit struggling a bit due to bullying from across the water.” Is that how you see Cuba? Struggling a bit? News flash, the US maintained severe sanctions against China for 22 years until President Nixon opened talks. Hard to ignore a country with a fourth of the world’s population. There is no comparison between the relationship with China and the relationship with Cuba. Different geography, culture, leadership principals and economic agenda. Relations with China are bolstered by their willingness to ‘play nice’ in the capitalist pool. Cuba has neither the buying power nor the political influence that China has to counterbalance the anti-Castro lobby in Washington. Apples and oranges.

  • I am neither bitter nor miserable. OK, when my ’49ers lose, I am a little of both. If you disagree with my “rants” as you describe my comments, is it because you approve of the way the Castros have run Cuba? Do you support the recent arrest and beatings of hundreds of peaceful protesters? Or is it simply that as your vacation paradise, you would prefer that Cuba remain the “petting zoo” so many Canadians (I assume you are Canadian) enjoy in order to satisfy that ‘exotic fantasy’ need so hard to find in Canada? Which is it? Yes, Bank of Scotland’s biggest accounts are with US-based interests. Check out their Comptroller fillings for yourself.

  • The UK Government is the main shareholder in RBS.

  • Cuba is a lovely country with very nice people, albeit struggling a bit due to bullying from across the water.
    America has enough problems of its own with a debt going into the trillions of dollars mainly held with Chinese bonds, WHY are they not taking sanctions against communist China rather than harassing Cuba and her people?
    I have no axe to grind about America or her peoples, but in my book you do not resolve problems by threats and bullying, ask Nelson Mandela, yes the worlds most powerful nation has somehow lost the plot.
    I will look forward to hearing Moses’s solution to China.

  • Kelly, I agree with you completely. Moses is a bitter, miserable person who has nothing to do but rant on this site. I can’t believe that the Bank of Scotland would pay that fine! How much business do they do with the US?

    I’m off to Cuba for Christmas and New Years and then back in February and March for five weeks…I can hardly wait!

  • With all due respect, what a load of crap. I assume that where you live in Canada there exists the choice between what you call “garbage” in the grocery stores and, if you wish, and are willing to pay a little extra, the chemical and hormone-free ‘whole food’ stores similar to what we have in the US. Here is the problem with your comment: Cubans want the same choices we have. Some will opt for a low-carbon footprint, chemical-free life but others want McDonalds hamburgers, frozen pizzas and double expresso capucchinos and all the other crap we know is unnecessary to be happy. The point is when you don’t have it, you want it. You are probably right that Cubans don’t need my ‘American’ way of life. Heck, I don’t NEED it either. But Cubans want the ability to choose their President, their jobs, their choice of news, and even whether or not to eat healthy. They want exactly what you and I want. Freedom.

  • I will be honest. I have traveled there extensively over that last few years. The foo that they get from the US is full of hormones and chemicals…I am Canadian so I get the same garbage in my grocery stories..
    Fortunately I live on the West Coast so I get most of my stuff from the farmers which are going back to the traditional method of farming.
    Cuba has been doing that for all this time, yes there has been many hardships for the people but they are a much happier country with out the corporation rat race that we have all been subjected to.

    Kids still play in the street with there school friends. Block parties are still held. Holidays are spent enjoying time with family and friends not the race to the mall to see what new item can be bought for the least amount of money…

    yes it is still a country in need of help but your American way of life is not what is needed. They need to build there own country not have your government prop up some party and have them exploit the country as you have done in so many other places in the world.

  • Bravo! The impact of the US embargo has been severely lessened by its seemingly haphazard enforcement. In doing so, the alleged suffering inflicted by the embargo on the Cuban people has been prolonged. Another commenter to HT recently noted that remittances to Cuba in the last year exceeded $5.1 billion, the majority of which came from the US. The Cuban government paid only $1 billion in total salaries over the same period. So much for the ridiculous labels such as ‘genocidal’ given to criticize the embargo. US tourists are the fastest growing segment of the tourist trade to Cuba. The US is among the top countries importing food to Cuba which imports as much as 80% of its food. It can only be hoped that the continued pressure of the embargo, coupled with the increasing uncertainty of Cuba’s Venezuelan wet-nurse will combine with the increasing frailty of the ‘historic leadership’ to ultimate lead to a regime change to a free and democratic Cuba. Time is finally on the side of freedom.

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