Finally, Cuba gets its bank

Cuba finally has its bank. Stonegate Bank, a Pompano Beach institution, has reached an agreement with the Cuban government for it to open an account in the U.S.

“Stonegate executives agreed to provide banking services to the Cuban government at the request of the U.S. State Department,” reported the Sun Sentinel on Wednesday afternoon.

Cuba has been without a U.S. bank for almost two years. Its previous banker, M&T Bank of Buffalo, dropped the Cubans after it stopped handling all bank accounts for foreign governments. Since then no other bank was willing to deal with Cuba until Stonegate. During this time all business handled by Cuba’s Interest Section in Washington has been transacted in cash.

The bank announcement had been expected since representatives from the U.S. and Cuba will be meeting in Washington, D.C. tomorrow for their fourth round of meetings. The Obama administration has begun a new policy of engagement with the island nation brought about by last December’s announcement that the two governments were willing to establish diplomatic relations.

Tomorrow’s meeting in Washington is meant to proceed in the path of renewed diplomatic relations. But one of the snags holding up the re-establishment of embassies had been the lack of banking services here in the U.S. for the Cuban government.

Stonegate Bank’s president and CEO is Dave Seleski. Chairman of the bank’s board is John L. Tomlinson.

According to the Sun Sentinel, “Stonegate has 21 offices on the east and west coasts of Florida, according to the bank’s website. Those offices include sites in the Tampa and Sarasota area.

“Stonegate is well regarded by analysts for strong operations, earning the top five-star mark from Bauer Financial, a bank rating group in Coral Gables.”

Seleski, a veteran south Florida banker, started Stonegate in 2005, in Fort Lauderdale.

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