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10 Mar, 2024 09:53

US threatens EU bank with sanctions – media

Washington has reportedly warned Austria’s banking giant Raiffeisen over its operations in Russia
US threatens EU bank with sanctions – media

Austria’s Raiffeisen Bank International, the biggest foreign lender in Russia, risks “being cut off from the US financial system” if it is found to have helped fund Russia’s military, according to the US Treasury  Department, as cited by Reuters.

“As part of Washington’s renewed push on sanctions, it would encourage Austrian banks to examine their Russian exposure and ‘take mitigation measures’,” US top Treasury official Anna Morris said earlier this week.

Raiffeisen has confirmed discussions with the US on potential sanctions for doing business in Russia, the EUobserver news website reported on Saturday.

The banking giant did not provide further details, saying that it does not usually “comment publicly on discussions with representatives of authorities, as a matter of principle.”

Raiffeisen is one of the last major Western lenders still operating in Russia. The bank is one of only two foreign banks on the Russian central bank’s list of 13 systemically important credit institutions, the other being Italy’s UniCredit. Dutch lender ING, Germany’s Commerzbank and Deutsche Bank, Hungary’s OTP Bank, Italy’s Intesa SanPaolo, and Sweden’s SEB also retain a presence on the Russian market.

Last year, the Austrian lender announced plans to spin off its Russian business by September, following mounting pressure from Western governments. The RBI Group that owns the bank has been resisting demands from the US and EU to speed up its Russia exit. The European Central Bank (ECB) has also been pressuring the lender to quit the Russian market.

US Treasury officials have also briefed German financiers on the new sanctions threat, according to Commerzbank, which conducts corporate banking for mostly German companies active in Russia, as cited by EUobserver.

When asked if it feared potential US penalties, the German lender said it “treats sanctions compliance with the utmost importance and has taken risk-based measures to reduce its Russia-related sanctions risk exposure.”

Meanwhile, ING told the news outlet that the new US rules meant “banks can be sanctioned or denied access to the US-dollar clearing system for a certain period of time, provided the bank has facilitated significant transactions that benefited the Russian military branch.” The Dutch bank, however, sees no risk, as it “complies with all international sanctions laws including UN, EU, and OFAC.”

For more stories on economy & finance visit RT's business section

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