US warns of new sanctions against Russian banks

Increased pressure on the Russian financial sector could be the subject of new sanctions, said Eric Woodhouse, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Threats, Finance and Sanctions.

At the moment, 10 Russian banks are disconnected from the international SWIFT system. The issue of further expansion of this list is within the competence of the EU authorities, Woodhouse said.

“Increased pressure on the financial sector is one of the opportunities and mechanisms that we can use,” RIA Novosti quoted the diplomat as saying.

With the latest round of sanctions, the EU cut off Sberbank, Moscow Credit Bank and Rosselkhozbank from SWIFT. Since March without access to the system: VTB, Otkritie, Sovcombank, Rossiya Bank, Prosvyazbank, Novikombank and VEB. 13 banks, including Alfa-Bank, are under blocking sanctions from Western countries, which also make it impossible to make payments in foreign currency.

Windows to the world are gradually closing for Russians who want to evacuate money from the country. Tinkoff was forced to stop SWIFT transfers after the introduction of hard limits by Western counterparties, and Rosbank was cut off from the British financial system immediately after it was bought by billionaire Vladimir Potanin.

Raiffeisenbank continues SWIFT transfers, while the parent company – the Austrian group Raiffeisen Bank International – is considering the possibility of a sale.

Other major foreign players, meanwhile, are packing their bags: Citibank plans to leave Russia and serves only current customers, but does not attract new ones. UniCredit Bank is considering exiting through a structure that would allow it to buy back the business if the geopolitical situation stabilizes.

Of the major banks, only Gazprombank is outside the sanctions, through which gas payments are made. Thanks to this, the bank, which fell into the orbit of influence of the closest friends of the president, Yuri Kovalchuk and Nikolai Shamalov, becomes the new Central Bank of Russia, says Robin Brooks, chief economist at the Institute of International Finance (IIF).

Instead of Elvira Nabiullina’s Bank of Russia, which has turned into a financial impotent, GPB accumulates an excess of foreign currency for oil and gas on its accounts and can control the ruble exchange rate.


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