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US Freezes Assets of Sanctioned Russian Banks

US Freezes Assets of  Sanctioned Russian BanksUS Freezes Assets of  Sanctioned Russian Banks

The US has frozen accounts of Russian banks SMP, Rossiya and its subsidiary Sobinbank worth a total of $640 million, as part of America’s escalating sanctions war against Russia over its policy in Ukraine.

Russian assets have been frozen in dozens of US financial institutions such as Citibank, Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan Chase, says the Wall Street Journal referring to US Treasury data, RT reported.

Since March 2014 western countries have sanctioned Russian politicians, businessmen and companies over the conflict in Ukraine. On March 4, President Obama prolonged US economic sanctions against Russia for another year, saying the country’s policy over Ukraine poses a threat to US security.

Bank Rossiya has confirmed the frozen accounts to RT. It has become hardest hit Russian organization after it fell under US sanctions after Crimea became part of Russia. The frozen accounts of Bank Rossiya in the United States include $572 million which is about 10 percent of its 2013 assets, at today’s exchange rate.

In 2013, Bank Rossiya reported total assets of roughly $5.6 billion (338 billion rubles) at today’s exchange rates. The frozen assets include accounts belonging to Sobinbank, a wholly owned subsidiary.

The bank had its biggest $435,433,344 asset placed on a single US account with a financial company called Computershare Inc. Some tens of millions of dollars were frozen in the accounts of Raiffeisen Bank, according to the US Treasury.

The US explained the freezing of the bank assets on its blacklisted owner Yuri Kovalchuk who is part of the Kremlin inner circle. On April 28, 2014, SMP Bank and Sobinbank, which belong to the Rotenberg brothers, were hit by similar sanctions.

  Compensation

The Russian parliament is considering a so-called Rotenberg law, a bill that would compensate Russian companies and individuals for assets frozen in the West.

However, oligarch Arkady Rotenberg, who’s net worth this year was estimated by Forbes at $1.4 billion, says he had nothing to do with the bill and needs no state subsidies.

SMP Bank saw at least $65 million frozen or 2 percent of its 2013 assets at the current rate. The money is placed on hundreds of accounts, the largest of which are in Citibank ($6.55 million), Deutsche Bank, Goldman Sachs and others.

The companies and individuals who have fallen under US sanctions are losing millions of dollars. Citibank froze around $10 million on four accounts belonging to weapons maker KBP Instrument Design Bureau.

  EU Not in a Hurry

The European Union has said it is prepared to step up sanctions against Russia over the Ukraine crisis. But officials added they would rather focus on enforcing the current ceasefire than implementing new restrictions, DW reported.

Foreign ministers from across the European Union met in Riga, Latvia on Friday for two days of talks on how to cope with Russia and ongoing instability in Ukraine.

EU nations have reiterated that they are ready to intensify already harsh restrictions against Russia, in an effort to end the fighting that’s gone on for more than a year in eastern Ukraine.

But their main aim is to help foster the execution of the Ukraine ceasefire agreed upon in February. The so-called “Minsk agreement” includes measures such as restoring Ukrainian control over its shared border with Russia.

EU foreign policy head Federica Mogherini ruled out easing sanctions already in place, saying despite small improvements, it wasn’t yet enough.

“They will not be lifted until something really good happens on the ground and on the other side we are always ready to increase the pressure if needed,” she told reporters.

 

Financialtribune.com