Russia Continued to Circumvent Banking Sanctions, But That's Changing


We have already spoken to you about it here and there: the implementation of Western sanctions against Russia is coming up against multiple forms of circumvention, notably through banks located in the Gulf and in Europe.

But new sanctions from the US Treasury, which pose the threat of very heavy fines – and no less light prison sentences – have recently pushed these financial institutions to say “What’s the truth” (“goodbye”) to their Russian clients, reveals the American daily Wall Street Journal.

“Today, Washington's efforts to close these gaps appear to be bearing fruittells the economic and financial newspaper. Dubai's main state-owned bank has closed some accounts held by Russian oligarchs and Russian oil traders. Turkish lenders are increasingly wary of deals linked to Russia. The United States also put the banks of Vienna, another important financial hub, on notice.”

These decisions follow visits by American officials to these countries, but above all new sanctions from the American Treasury. The latter, at the request of the White House, now has the power to make foreign banks pay very dearly for carrying out transactions linked to the Russian defense industrial and technological base.

The bamboche is over

In the wake of the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 and new sanctions against Moscow, Russian oligarchs and oil traders have relocated part of their money and their activities to Dubai, notably at the Emirates NBD bank. But in recent months, the United States has put pressure on the UAE and sanctioned entities like Emirati Russian oil traders Voliton and Bellatrix Energy.

“Emirates NBD has reversed its trajectorycontinues the Wall Street Journal. It closed its Russia-focused department, stopped accepting ruble transfers from Russia, and closed a large number of accounts owned by Russians, typically containing more than $5 million or held by entities linked to sanctions .”

In addition to Voliton and Bellatrix Energy, Coral Energy and Pontus Trading, all close to the Azerbaijani businessman Etibar Eyyub and active in the trading of Russian crude, saw their accounts closed by Emirates NBD, to which the Dubai branch of the Egyptian banking group Banque Misr followed suit.

However, this network until now appeared central for the Russian oil giant Rosneft in order to export its crude to China and India above the ceiling price set by the G7, the European Union and Australia, by the through a “ghost fleet” of discreet tankers.

Emirates NBD also closed the accounts of Uralkali, a Russian company specializing in the production and sale of potash, and of Ivan Tavrin, a Russian billionaire who made his fortune in tech, telecommunications and media, sanctioned in December by Washington , who considers it as “L'one of the biggest Russian war profiteers”.

On the Turkish side, companies doing business with Russia have recently seen their transfers of funds blocked by their Turkish bankers, who fear American sanctions. Finally, the Austrian group Raiffeisen Bank International, under pressure from the United States, is seeking to separate from its Russian branch. The wind is turning…

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