Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, a Cuban-born Republican and congressional
representative for the state of Florida, wants to track the
She claims the Swiss bank carried out 1,900 transactions with
the government of Cuban leader Fidel Castro over the seven-year
"We want to know the exact source of the money," said Alex Cruz,
a spokesman for Ros-Lehtinen.
"We are convinced that UBS employees laundered money."
UBS spokesman Christoph Meier said he had not been informed of
any new investigation of the bank and rejected all accusations
of money laundering.
Old for new
Ros-Lehtinen and her colleagues accuse UBS of buying old dollars
from the Castro government and then crediting an account with
new US banknotes.
The transactions would have been in violation of a US economic
and financial embargo against Cuba, which has been in place
At the time, UBS was one of a number of foreign banks contracted
by the US Federal Reserve to exchange new dollar bills for worn-out
notes being taken out of circulation.
But the contract specifically stated that the banks were not
allowed to do business with countries under US sanctions.
[These funds] could have stemmed from one of Castro's
nefarious activities, such as drug trafficking.
Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, US congresswoman
Ros-Lehtinen has also cast doubt on the Cuban government's
explanation that the $3.9 billion flowed from tourism.
"Given the quantity we're dealing with, it is doubtful that the
funds derived from tourism,” she said in a July 12 letter to
Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan.
“Rather, [the money] could have stemmed from one of Castro's
nefarious activities, such as drug trafficking.”
Ros-Lehtinen said the matter had been discussed during a meeting
with UBS representatives on Thursday, but added that many
questions remained unanswered.
Christine Whalton, spokeswoman for UBS in New York, declined to
give any details about the meeting.
In the House of Representatives, Ros-Lehtinen chairs the
International Relations subcommittee on the Middle East and
She started investigating UBS two months ago, after the Federal
Reserve fined the bank $100 million for violating US embargoes
against Iran, Libya, Cuba and the former Yugoslavia.
UBS had agreed not to carry out dollar transactions with
countries under embargo.
But an internal investigation found that dollars had been traded
and that UBS employees submitted false reports to the US
authorities in a bid to conceal the transactions.
Several members of the bank's staff have since been dismissed
and others sanctioned.
The Federal Reserve cancelled its contract with UBS last year.
swissinfo, Elizabeth Meen