Ukraine’s central bank slams Raiffeisen’s proposed Russia exit strategy

27 March, 02:35 PM
Raiffeisenbank може обміняти свої російські активи на європейську «дочку» Сбербанку (Photo:Maxim Shemetov/ Reuters)

Raiffeisenbank може обміняти свої російські активи на європейську «дочку» Сбербанку (Photo:Maxim Shemetov/ Reuters)

Ukraine’s central bank is concerned about Raiffeisen Bank International's strategy to exit the Russian market by swapping the assets of its Russian subsidiary for the sanctioned Sberbank in Austria, the regulator's press service told news agency Interfax-Ukraine on March 24.

Sberbank is currently unable to carry out operations in Europe due to sanctions, and the bank's assets are blocked to comply with an EU decision.

The National Bank of Ukraine stressed that Sberbank is owned by the Russian government, so the blocked assets of Sberbank in Austria are assets of the aggressor state that should be subject to recovery for use in the rebuilding of Ukraine.

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Sberbank Austria’s losses due to the termination of its operations directly impact the Russian state budget through decreasing revenue, which Russia uses to finance the war on Ukraine, the NBU noted.

"Taking into account the above arguments, such an 'exchange' between the RBI and the Russian government does not stand up to any criticism – neither in terms of sanctions regulation (as the agreement will require lifting restrictions at least partially), nor in terms of fairness," the regulator said.

“By agreeing to such a deal, (Raiffeisen Bank International) is saving a Russian bank under sanctions and depriving Ukraine of the opportunity to receive reparations.”

At the same time, the NBU noted that the decision by the National Agency on Corruption Prevention to add Raiffeisen Bank International to the list of international sponsors of war will not have a direct impact on the work of the Ukrainian branch of Raiffeisen Bank, which was confirmed by the Ukrainian branch.

The NACP added Raiffeisen Bank International on March 23 to the list of international sponsors of war for continuing to operate in Russia and officially recognizing the so-called “people’s republics” of Donetsk and Luhansk through its representative office in Russia.

In 2022, the bank transferred almost five times more money to the Russian budget than in 2021. The bank paid EUR 559 million ($602 million) to the budget of the aggressor state, which is equal to the cost of about 95 Kalibr missiles.

In addition, the U.S. sanctions authority has launched an investigation into Raiffeisen Bank International and its operations in Russia and the temporarily occupied territories of Donbas.

According to Austrian media reports, Raiffeisen Bank International plans to exchange its assets in Russia for Austrian assets of Sberbank of Russia.

Meanwhile, the European Central Bank is demanding that Raiffeisen leave Russia.

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