Qatar National Bank (QNB) has secured the necessary   approvals to launch a representative office in the Republic of Cuba.

“This step is in line with QNB Group’s strategy to expand in selected countries,” the Qatari lender said in a statement without elaborating details.

Foreign banks have previously been unwilling to set up presence in Cuba, mainly due to the risk of being found in violation of US economic sanctions. However, in March 2016, US banking institutions were authorised to process U-turn transactions in which Cuba or a Cuban national has an interest. 

The new rule allowed funds transfers from a bank outside the US that pass through one or more US financial institutions before being transferred to a bank outside the US, where neither the originator nor the beneficiary is a person subject to US jurisdiction. 

The move comes shortly after the bank’s announcement of opening a branch in India after receiving the go-ahead from India’s regulatory authorities.

At present, QNB has a presence in over 30 countries across three continents through its subsidiaries and associate companies. The bank currently operates in more than 1,200 locations, comprises a network of over 4,300 ATMs, and employs more than 27,300 staff.

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In June 2016, the bank acquired a 99.81% stake in Turkish lender Finansbank from National Bank of Greece in a EUR2.7bn deal.