Million-Dollar Bank Deposits Amount to an Illegal Operation by the Cuban Government

At least five people report finding a million convertible pesos in their bank accounts. (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Luz Escobar, Havana, April 8, 2021 — “It’s to cushion the reorganization,” was the response one young businesswoman got from Banco Metropolitano after waking up on Tuesday and finding a million convertible peos, or CUCs, in her bank account. “This doesn’t make any sense to me. A lot of people are complaining about the same thing. I’m really worried,” she says.

Madrid-based Cuban economist Elías Amor raises the possibility that “the Cuban banking system is moving significant sums of money through bank accounts to hide problematic situations in anticipation of an investigation by some of Cuba’s creditors such as the Club of Paris and Russia,” he says.

“It suggests an attempt to hide fortunes amassed by private individuals working for the regime or huge sums of money in some state-owned commercial accounts.”

Either way, it would amount to financial engineering, which he describes as “an illegal operation.”

This week a dozen Cubans have reported the same experience on social media: unexpectedly large balances in their bank accounts. In at least five cases it was the same figure: one million CUC.

The bank explained it was a “fictitious amount,” warning them not to “touch or withdraw” it, without providing further information.

“That’s what worries me. It’s the equivalent of 24 million Cuban pesos, which translates to [hundreds of] thousands of dollars,” says the young woman. She is also concerned about the possibility of having to pay taxes on a huge sum of money she has not earned.

When she shared her experience on social media, she learned she had friends —most of them artists and private-sector workers — who were in the same situation. “They are all self-employed and all suddenly found they had a third bank account in CUC,” she explains.

“The same thing happened to me yesterday” and “I just took a look at my account and I’m a millionaire” were some of the comments on social media.

“The bank doesn’t notify you in advance that they’re going to do this or send you an alert. It’s really alarming,” replies one of her colleagues.

“I woke up to find a million CUC in my bank account. I reported this to the bank and they told me it’s because of currency unification, that I can’t touch the money. Am I the only one or are there other people like me?” asks someone else on social media.

It’s not the first time a problem like this has been reported. In early March 14ymedio learned of a technical problem that had affected account balances at Banco de Crédito y Comercio (Bandec) and Banco Popular de Ahorro (BPA), which operate Transfermovil and EnZona banking apps in various parts of the country. At the time several depositors reported having lost part of their savings while others told of receiving surprising large sums of money.

The official response was a brief message on Twitter that alluded to “some difficulties” in network payment services due to “technical problems” with the Transfermóvil app.


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