Retail investors filed lawsuit against VTB, Alfa and RSHB challenging transfer and freezing of securities

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MOSCOW, March 16 (Reuters) – More than 40 retail investors, former customers of state-owned bank VTB, which has been placed under blocking sanctions, filed a lawsuit in Moscow’s Mechanysky Court against VTB, as well as Alfa-Bank and Rosselkhozbank, challenging the transfer of their securities and the lack of the possibility of trading them from March 1, 2022.

According to the court’s website, a hearing on the lawsuit is scheduled for April 10, 2023.

Dissatisfied with the actions of brokers, individual investors throughout the year turned to the VTB, the Central Bank, the State Duma and other departments and organizations, demanding action to unblock their securities.

In the lawsuit, former clients of VTB consider the transfer of their foreign securities to other brokers to be “unlawful” and demand that the transactions of forced transfer of securities without the consent of clients be nullified and that personal data be disclosed to third parties.

The press service of VTB said that the bank supported its customers at all stages, and the transfer was carried out strictly within the framework of the law. Alfa-Bank and Rosselkhozbank have not yet responded to a request for comment.

“In addition to the transfer, we will address the issue of illegal closing of trading in securities (in the VTB trading system) from March 1, 2022, if VTB has the technical capacity to trade and close transactions by March 23, 2022, in accordance with the license,” Mavrinskaya said.

“We are waiting for justice from the court, we want our money back from the banks,” she added.

VTB was the first of the large banks to be sanctioned at the end of February 2022, and at that time there was still no well-developed mechanism for transferring assets to foreign clients. In April last year, the bank announced that it had transferred the assets of clients with foreign securities to over 50 professional participants of the securities market.

“Faced with unprecedented sanctions, VTB initiated the process of transferring clients with foreign securities to other brokers in order to protect investors’ interests. This transfer was carried out strictly within the framework of applicable regulations,” VTB’s press service said in response to a request from Reuters.

“We regret that a small group of investors did not appreciate our efforts. But we value every customer – including the former – and in any case, we continue to do everything in our power to protect their interests, ”says the comment.

“Therefore, VTB has filed requests with the Belgian and Luxembourgish regulators to unblock income from foreign securities of former clients that were not received due to the blocking of NSD’s Euroclear and Clearstream accounts for the period during which these assets were held with VTB. Let us add that the transfer of clients has nothing to do with the blocking issue that occurred as a result of the blocking of Euroclear assets in the NSD account.”

According to VTB, the assets of around 500,000 former customers of the state bank were blocked.

The Central Bank reported that more than 5 million people in Russia have blocked assets in their accounts, and the regulator receives tens of thousands of complaints related to the blocking of securities.

(editor Dmitry Antonov)


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