14ymedio, Havana, 30 March 2019 — Panama’s Multibank closed numerous accounts of companies that maintain relations or trade with the Cuban government, including that of the Prensa Latina (PL) correspondent, according to official reports.
Multibank, which started operations in 1968 under the name Gran Financiera, denied that the closure of the accounts is the result of external pressures or is related to the US embargo. The financial institution justified the measure as part of “an update to its internal policy and business lines,” according to Prensa Latina.
PL details that more than a dozen companies financially linked to Cuba received a brief email dated December 1, 2018. “We inform you that the Bank has taken the decision to close your bank account next Friday, December 28, 2018,” the text alerted.
Subsequently, the banking authorities informed by telephone that they had extended the deadline until January 3, 2019, although other entities affected by the same measure could maintain their accounts until the end of March.
Attached to the message, the directors of Multibank sent the so-called ’Trump List’, a list of companies sanctioned by Washington that operate in Cuba, some of them under the control of Cuban intelligence services and the Armed Forces.
The decision was preceded by an announcement dated October 27, 2018, in which Multibank informed its clients that “due to new internal policies,” as of December 31 of last year, the transfers received or sent from PAB (Balboas) should be in Euros and not US dollars starting then.
In 2015, Multibank, the third largest Panamanian bank based on the volume of its assets, had advanced its interest in settling in Cuba as part of the promotion to attract foreign investment in the island today.
“We see great opportunities in that country that will develop quickly and Multibank would love to be involved in that development, both to support Cuban financial institutions and entrepreneurs who intend to invest there,” said the CEO of that entity, Isaac Btesh.
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