French banks defeat NY lawsuit by household of Cuban financial institution seized by Castro


By Jonathan Stempel

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Societe Generale SA and BNP Paribas SA on Thursday gained the dismissal of a lawsuit in New York accusing them of trafficking in belongings that Fidel Castro’s authorities seized in 1960 from the previous homeowners of a Cuban financial institution.

The case had sought damages estimated at a number of hundred million {dollars}.

It was introduced by 12 heirs, principally youngsters and grandchildren, of Carlos and Pura Nuñez, who had owned Banco Nuñez earlier than and in the course of the Cuban Revolution.

SocGen and Paribas had been accused of evading U.S. sanctions by doing enterprise with Cuba’s central financial institution after it nationalized and absorbed Banco Nuñez and different lenders, leading to greater than $1 billion of revenue for the French banks since 2000.

However in Thursday’s determination, U.S. District Choose Mary Kay Vyskocil stated that regardless of claims by a SocGen whistleblower, the heirs lacked proof that SocGen funds saved flowing via Banco Nacional de Cuba even after the French financial institution was warned about it.

The Manhattan choose additionally stated she lacked jurisdiction over BNP Paribas, which based on the heirs “routinely” supplied money in Switzerland to the Cuban central financial institution and transacted with entities that did enterprise with it.

Vyskocil additionally stated many claims in opposition to BNP Paribas had been too outdated.

Legal professionals for the heirs didn’t instantly reply to requests for remark. SocGen and BNP Paribas declined to remark.

The heirs had sued underneath the Helms-Burton Act, a 1996 U.S. regulation that permits lawsuits in opposition to traffickers in property confiscated by Cuba’s authorities.

Litigation was suspended for 23 years due to worldwide opposition and concern U.S. courts might be flooded by lawsuits.

The Trump administration lifted the suspension in April 2019, to spice up strain on Havana to finish Cuban assist for Venezuela’s socialist President Nicolas Maduro.

In November 2018, SocGen agreed to pay $1.34 billion and enter a deferred prosecution settlement to settle U.S. expenses over its dealing with of transactions associated to Cuba and different sanctioned international locations.

SocGen complied with the settlement, and that case ended three years later.

The case is Sucesors de Don Carlos Nuñez y Doña Pura Galvez Inc et al v Societe Generale SA, U.S. District Court docket, Southern District of New York, No. 20-00851.

(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; enhancing by Jonathan Oatis)

You may have missed