Canada’s Scotiabank Stops U.S. Dollar Transaction Services to Cuba

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Thursday, June 1, 2006
Bruce Zagaris
On April 4, 2006, Canadian financial institution Scotiabank announced via its Jamaican branch that it will no longer provide monetary transaction services in U.S. dollars to Cuba, stirring public debate in Canada on the legality of a Canadian financial institution yielding to foreign legislation contrary to Canadian national interests. In a March 7, 2006 letter, Barrington Chisholm, manager of the Scotiabank branch on Knutsord Boulevard in Kingston, Jamaica, said that in the future his bank would not manage accounts in U.S. dollars for Cuban clients or carry out international financial operations for them. In Toronto Scotiabank spokesman Frank Switzer confirmed that the bank’s decision would be implemented by all branches in Canada and abroad. Scotiabank’s move has raised confusion about its justification for the decision. In his letter Chislolm refers to the U.S. Patriot Act, while in conversation with the Toronto Star, Switzer admitted that the legislation was “possibly” not what should be invoked.