EFE (via 14ymedio), London, 25 January 2023 — During the trial in London on Wednesday, the president of the Central Bank of Cuba (BNC), Joscelín Río Álvarez, said that the CRF investment fund “did not legally acquire the Cuban debt,” according to the country’s legislation and does not appear on the institution’s registers.
As a lender, CRF, which was established in 2009 in the Cayman Islands, has brought a claim before the British court against BNC, with Cuba as the guarantor for payment of obligations totaling 72 million euros derived from loan contracts with European signed in the 1980s.
In a process that will take several days, Judge Sara Cockerill, of the Commercial High Court of London, will first determine whether the investment group is or is not a legitimate creditor to Cuba, which considers it a “vulture fund”, created only to accumulate unpaid Cuban debt and force payment through the courts.
According to procedural documents, CRF holds Cuban sovereign debt valued at 1.2 billion euros (which means they posses the contractual rights to collect it), which would make it the world’s largest debt holder.
Río Álvarez, who took charge in May 2020, maintained that CRF is not registered as a lender at BNC (only its application) and reiterated that the determination authorizing its status on November 25, 2019 by Raúl Olivera Lozano, a government official who has been convicted for accepting a bribe from agents of the fund and violating procedures, is invalid.
CRF alleges, for its part, that the determination of the contractual rights to the 72 million euro debt, which had previously been held by ICBC Standard Bank (the British affiliate of the Chinese ICBC bank), was legal. And stated that the accusations against Olivera and other colleagues sentenced to prison “are pretexts fabricated” by the Cuban state “to elude its obligations.”
Yesterday Olivera declared, also by videoconference from Havana, that CRF’s consultant, Jeetkumar Gordhandas offered him money to transfer the titles, which he did illegally, with only one signature (instead of two) and without consulting the Cuban government.
On Wednesday, Río Álvarez underscored that “no BNC employee is authorized to act on behalf of the Government of Cuba.” CRF states that it is not a vulture fund and highlights that for years it attempted to negotiate with Cuba to restructure its debt, without a response.
In parallel to the London trial, dozens demonstrated on Tuesday in Miami (USA) in support of the lawsuit brought forth by CRF. People gathered near the Versailles restaurant, on the emblematic 8th Street, the usual site for Cubans in exile to protest against the Government of Havana, shouting and insulting the Castro brothers, calling for a convinction before the Criminal Court in The Hague.
On the placards, demonstrators in favor of the trial in London classified the Castro brothers as terrorists and called for freedom for political prisoners being held in prisons on the Island by the Government of Havana .
The CRF I fund, the London Club’s largest holder of Cuban debt, initially sought 100 million euros for loans to the insular government by European banks Crédit Lyonnais and L’Istituto Bancario Italiano.
Translated by: Silvia Suárez
COLLABORATE WITH OUR WORK: The 14ymedio team is committed to practicing serious journalism that reflects Cuba’s reality in all its depth. Thank you for joining us on this long journey. We invite you to continue supporting us by becoming a member of 14ymedio now. Together we can continue transforming journalism in Cuba.