Proposed state law could restrict U.S. banking in Cuba

Feb 24, 2014, 3:56pm EST
Staff Tampa Bay Business Journal

A new bill making its way through the state Legislature could close the door on the chance for Florida companies to do business with Cuba.

House Bill 673 would require that Florida banks that do business with countries believed to sponsor terrorism must file reports with the state. These forms are already required federally, the Tampa Tribune said. Nations falling into this category include: Cuba, Iran, Syria and Sudan.

The change could have a chilling effect and make Florida banks currently considering servicing Cuban bank accounts think twice, the Tribune said. “Banks were afraid of doing business with Cuba before this bill was proposed because of the federal regulations and fines,” said Bill Hauf, president of Island Travel & Tours, which flies from Tampa to Havana. “Now that the state is also involved, adding another level of bureaucracy and oversight, there is no way a state bank will want to be involved.”

One bank that previously did business with the island nation was M&T Bank of Buffalo, N.Y. That bank stopped depositing checks for the Cuban Interests Section in Washington, D.C. –– Cuba’s equivalent of an embassy — and announced it will cease doing business with Cuba on March 1, the Tribune said.

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