U.S. State Department bans business with Cuban bank BFI

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. State Department on Friday added a Cuban commercial bank to its restricted list, saying it will prevent the Cuban military from benefiting from financial transactions.

The State Department placed Banco Financiero International S.A. in the Cuba Restricted List starting in early January, calling it “a Cuban military-controlled commercial bank that benefits directly from financial transactions at the expense of the Cuban people.”

By placing BFI on the list, it bars U.S. companies from making direct financial transactions with the bank.

BFI did not immediately respond to Reuters requests for comment.

“The Cuban military uses BFI’s key role in foreign exchange to give military and state companies preferential access, secure advantageous exchange rates, and finance government-controlled projects that enrich the regime,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement.

Since President Donald Trump took office in January 2017, he has rolled back a detente with America’s old Cold War foe pursued by his Democratic predecessor, President Barack Obama.

The Trump administration has also barred U.S. travelers from bringing home Cuban cigars and rum or staying in government-run hotels.

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