Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Credit watch

Do those fun-loving Russians ever learn?

As we have previously reported, the Castro brothers owe Moscow an estimated USD26 billion in debts incurred back in the days before the Soviet Union collapsed, along with its various Communist satellites.

In fact, only last week, the Moscow-based International Investment Bank was given the legal go-ahead to try and recover at least some of the money owed by Havana, although even officials at the bank admitted that the likelihood of success was, well, remote.

We now learn that another State-owned bank in Russia, the Development Bank (Vneshekonombank), has agreed to loan a subsidiary of the Cuban national airline no less than USD44.5 million so they can buy a Russian cargo plane.

According to media reports, the State-owned airline has promised to repay the loan in 12 years. Seriously.

Of course, Havana has also promised to repay earlier loans that have resulted in the purchase of six Russian civil aircraft over the past three years, including a IL-96 VIP plane that was specially fitted out for the personal use of Fidel Castro and his entourage.

I wouldn't bet on any repayments. On time or otherwise.


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