USA: Sanction on Cuban company FINCIMEX will not be effective until further notice

The Western Union company reiterated that all operations and remittance services to Cuba will continue to operate without any impact for the moment.

Sucursal de Western Union en La Habana © CiberCuba
Western Union branch in Havana Photo © CiberCuba

This article is from 3 years ago

The United States clarified this Friday that the planned sanction against the financial FINCIMEX, in charge of managing remittance deliveries in Cuba, It will not be effective until a correction is made in the federal registry of government publications.

The news for the thousands of users from the Cuban community who send remittances to their relatives in Cuba is that operations through Western Union and other operating agencies from the United States remain, for the moment, unchanged.

The regulations to apply sanctions to FINCIMEX, included in the blacklist of Cuban entities of the State Department, were to come into effect on June 12, but Washington attributed the temporary postponement of the measure to an involuntary omission of the name of the financial company from the federal registry.

"The Department of State is issuing a correction to the Federal Register Notice of June 12, 2020, to add to the Cuba Restrictions List [CRL] seven sub-entities under the control of or acting on behalf of the Cuban military, intelligence or security services," he told CyberCuba a spokesperson for the Office of Hemispheric Affairs of that government agency.

The CRL, implemented since 2017, includes 235 Cuban entities and sub-entities with which US citizens and companies are prevented from doing business, taking into account their links with military organizations of the Castro regime.

The official indicated that the State Department is issuing an immediate correction to the Federal Register to rectify the notification that he inadvertently omitted to FINCIMEX from the CRL.

"The correction will be published in the Federal Register in the coming days. The addition of FINCIMEX to the CRL will be effective when the correction is published in the Federal Register," the official warned.

The State Department's omission generated confusion about the sanction procedure. In fact, FINCIMEX does not appear related in the Federal Register document published this Friday, which prevents any restriction against the Cuban entity from being legally activated. In it State Department listing It appears written that FINCIMEX's sanction will be effective when its name appears in the Federal Registry.

The issuance of regulations added to the sanction announced by the State Department last week, It was awaited with interest by the Cuban population inside and outside the island, as it could radically affect the operations of companies such as Western Union, the main operator of the $3.7 billion that are sent annually in remittances to recipients in Cuba.

A Treasury Department source said the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) does not have any additional guidance, regulations or comment on the matter at this time.

In a statement sent to CyberCuba, Western Union reiterated that all operations and services will continue to function without impact.

"We can confirm that our businesses and services from the United States to Cuba are operating as usual and in compliance with US laws and regulations," said a Western Union representative. "Customers can send money through branches or digitally through or our application."

The company added that "any future changes to services will be communicated directly to interested parties."

Western Union has been authorized by the Treasury Department to operate in Cuba since 1999 and FINCIMEX is the entity designated for the processing of remittances sent to residents in the national territory. Incorporated in Panama as a private company in 1984, the financial company is a subsidiary of CIMEX and is under the umbrella of the Business Administration Group (GAESA), controlled by the Revolutionary Armed Forces (FAR).

The sanction on FINCIMEX is part of an escalation of the embargo on Cuba, promoted by Donald Trump's administration. The State Department considers that the operations of the financial company "disproportionately benefit the Castro dictatorship, a regime that uses the profits of these businesses to oppress the Cuban people and finance its interference in Venezuela, at the expense of the Cuban people or the company." private in Cuba".

In addition to management control over remittances, FINCIMEX is the only banking institution that processes all electronic cards in the country, including credit card transactions (Visa and Mastercard) issued abroad, which has been a questioning factor. by Trump administration officials.

It is not clear whether Western Union will have to change its agreement with FINCIMEX and the terms under which it will have to carry out its operations from now on in case the Cuban government allows it to negotiate with another entity not sanctioned by the State Department.

Around 45 percent of the money that arrives in Cuba through remittances from different parts of the world does so through informal channels. The rest of the shipments are distributed between Western Union and about 20 operating agents that have contracts signed with American International Services (AIS), a CIMEX branch based in Panama since 1988.

The annual amount of remittances to Cuba is estimated at about 3.7 billion dollars annually, according to studies by the consulting firm The Havana Consulting Group, based in Miami.

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Wilfredo Cancio Isla

CiberCuba journalist. Doctor in Information Sciences from the University of La Laguna (Spain). Editor and editorial director at El Nuevo Herald, Telemundo, AFP, Diario Las Américas, AmericaTeVe, Cafe Fuerte and Radio TV Martí.

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