22 Oct 2009 12:12

Russian Customs drops $22.5-bln suit against Bank of New York, court ends proceedings

MOSCOW. Oct 22 (Interfax) - The Russian Federal Customs Service (FCS) said at a session of the Moscow Arbitration Court on Thursday that it was dropping a claim for $22.5 billion against Bank of New York.

An Interfax correspondent reported from the court room that a lawyer for the FCS asked the court to close proceedings related to the suit.

The court accepted the request.

The FSC, which claims the American bank was involved in laundering $7.5 billion in Russian capital, filed the law suit, originally for $22.5 billion, back on May 17, 2007.

The FCS on February 18 sent a letter to Bank of New York's lawyers proposing to discuss a possible settlement of the case.

Bank of New York will pay legal costs as part of a settlement with the FCS and is offering a discounted that is unrelated to the litigation, Deputy Prime Minister Alexei Kudrin, who is also Russia's finance minister, said in September.

"The parties have arrived at the necessity to sign an amicable agreement, and to pay at least the same legal costs [$14 million) as to the U.S. government," Kudrin said.

The discounted loan will be provided "in parallel, as an act of good will, which testifies to the bank's intent to work with Russia and demonstrate its attitude in a difficult time," Kudrin said.

A source told Russia's Kommersant newspaper in September that the bank might open a $4-billion credit line at LIBOR+2.5% over a period of several years. The funds would be disbursed in tranches of $400 million every 180 days and the beneficiaries would be Russian banks, selected by the government.