CO-OP BANK ACKNOWLEDGES EXTRA-TERRITORIAL APPLICATION OF THE BLOCKADE
New York, 6 May 2016. The British Co-operative Bank (Co-op Bank) has confirmed to be governed by the sanctions issued by the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), as part of the extra-territorial application of the blockade policy imposed by the U.S. government against Cuba.
In November 2015, the Co-op Bank closed the bank accounts of the British Cuba Solidarity Campaign (CSC), citing among the reasons a change in its “risk assessment” and “global regulations”.
The bank´s Executive Director Niall Booker has recently confirmed in writing that the closure was due to the “risk” arising from the sanctions imposed by the US Treasury Department´s Office of Foreign Assets Control.
Obeying these OFAC sanctions is illegal under the British and European Union laws.
Both the British Government and the European Union opposed to the strengthening by the United States of the extra-territorial application of the blockade in the 1990´s, through the Torricelli Law (1992) and the Helms-Burton Act (1996).
In 1996, the European Council implemented Regulation (CE) No. 2271/96 on “protecting against the effects of the extra-territorial application of legislation adopted by a third country (in this case the United States), and actions based thereon or resulting therefrom”.
In the same year, the British Government approved Decree no. 3171 relating to the “Protection of Trading Interests” on the extra-territorial U.S. legislation. This legislation provides the government with the power to penalize any legal or natural person complying with U.S. legislation on British territory as a means to counteract its effects.
The United Kingdom Trade and Investment Department (UKTI) has acknowledged that the “risk of U.S. sanctions can create uncertainty and businesses, especially banks, sometimes find themselves caught within conflicting legal requirements”. (Permanent Mission of Cuba to the United Nations)