Sanctioned Bank Rossiya parts with $362m as clients withdraw forex

By Andrei Skvarsky.

Client accounts at Bank Rossiya have plunged by a total of 12.6bn rubles ($362m) since the end of March as customers have been withdrawing foreign currency from the St Petersburg-based lender after the United States imposed sanctions on it.

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Bank Rossiya limited its business to ruble transactions after the U.S. government forbade American companies to do business with the lender, accusing it of a role in Russia’s annexation of Crimea, and Visa and MasterCard refused to service its clients.

A total forex equivalent of 9.9bn rubles ($285m) has been taken off personal and 2.7bn rubles ($78m) off corporate accounts since the sanctions were announced late in March.

By May 1 personal foreign currency savings at the lender totalled 500m rubles ($14m) and corporate forex assets 58.8bn rubles ($1.7bn), according to Russian daily Vedomosti.

Retail and corporate ruble inputs have increased by 7.8bn rubles ($224m) since the end of March.

The U.S. government accuses Bank Rossiya of “material support” for Russian government officials in annexing Crimea and says its main shareholder, St Petersburg businessman Yury Kovalchuk, is a personal banker for senior Russian officials including President Vladimir Putin.

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