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  • Commerzbank is headquartered in Frankfurt and is currently the second largest bank in Germany, only surpassed in assets and operations by Deutsche Bank, and is considered the fifth most powerful bank in the world.  (Photo: Reuters)

    Commerzbank is headquartered in Frankfurt and is currently the second largest bank in Germany, only surpassed in assets and operations by Deutsche Bank, and is considered the fifth most powerful bank in the world. (Photo: Reuters) | Photo: Reuters

Published 16 December 2014

The economic and trade blockade on Cuba hurts international efforts in medicine and academia, and affects trade relations between the U.S. and Europe.

The U.S. government fined the German bank Commerzbank for carrying out transactions with Cuba in violation of U.S. sanctions imposed on the island. The resulting fines will be US$1 billion.  

According to the Financial Times, the German financial institution agreed to pay US$650 million in September for “carrying out financial transactions with Cuba, Iran, Sudan and other countries sanctioned by the United States.” The New York Times reported that the U.S. Treasury Department had already applied fines of more than US$500 million on Commerzbank transfers last July 9 carried out between its U.S. subsidiaries and companies in Cuba, North Korea, Myanmar, Iran and Sudan.

Washington initiated a large scale investigation of European banks who violated U.S. sanctions. A particularly high fine of US$900 million was placed on the French bank BNP Paribas SA in July. In response, Arnaud Montebourg, the critical finance minister, told the Financial Times that the U.S. policy is “economic warfare.”

Other European banks under U.S. investigation are the German Deutsche Bank, the French Crédit Agricole and Société Générale of France, and the Italian UniCredit SpA.

In a United Nations plenary on Oct. 28, a total of 188 nations voted to categorically condemn as unjust the U.S. economic, trade and finance blockade that has been in effect against Cuba for more than 50 years. It has been denounced by the United Nations General Assembly for 23 years in a row, and has recently also impacted the Caribbean island’s Ebola mission.

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