POMPANO BEACH, Fla., July 23 (UPI) -- Florida's Stonegate Bank announced the first agreement to establish a correspondent bank in Cuba since the start of diplomatic relations between the United States and Cuba.
The deal between Stongegate Bank, based in Pompano Beach, and Banco International de Comercio S.A. was signed in Havana earlier this week, seven months after regulations allowing for corresponding bank relationships were changed.
"For U.S. companies doing business in Cuba, we can facilitate transactions much easier now," said Dave Seleski, Stongegate president. Correspondent accounts allow banks to transact from country to country, typically to move money on their customers' behalf.
"This is another step in terms of normalizing commercial relations between the U.S. and Cuba. The ability to move money easily between the two countries will only increase trade and benefit American companies wishing to do business in Cuba. We are very proud to be a part of this process that is going to benefit both countries in the future," a statement by the bank Wednesday said.
Cuban government offices in the United States have been without a bank for over a year, since their previous banker, Buffalo's M&T Bank, stopped handling foreign government accounts. It meant, for example that visas at Cuba's Washington office needed to be purchased in cash.
While some in South Florida may object to normalizing relations with Cuba, John Kavulich III, president of the New York-based U.S.-Cuba Trade and Economic Council, told the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, "Stonegate Bank will be rewarded with business, both in the United States and in the Republic of Cuba."