22 Feb 2022 21:11

UK imposes sanctions against Promsvyazbank, Rossiya Bank, three Crimean banks

MOSCOW. Feb 22 (Interfax) - The UK said on Tuesday that it was imposing sanctions against five Russian banks, namely Rossiya, IS Bank, General Bank, Promsvyazbank and Black Sea Bank, as well as the Russian businessmen Igor Rotenberg, Boris Rotenberg and Gennady Timchenko over Russia's recognition of the Donetsk and Luhansk people's republics.

These are blocking sanctions that involve the freezing of assets. "The assets of the five Russian banks involved in the financing of the Russian occupation are frozen, the decision takes effect immediately," said British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss.

Promsvyazbank is owned by the state through the Federal Property Management Agency, being the main lender to Russia's defense industry sector and servicing 70% of the state defense order. The amount of financing provided to defense industry enterprises is 1.5 trillion rubles, said Pyotr Fradkov, head of Promsvyazbank, at a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin last December. Promsvyazbank is among the systemically important lenders in Russia and ranks 6th in the Interfax-100 ranking. So far, PSB has not been subject to any restrictions on the part of foreign countries, although it's positioning as a 'bank for the defense sector' and restrictions on information disclosure implied that such a scenario had not been initially ruled out by Russian authorities.

Bank Rossiya has already been on the U.S. sanctions list (Specially Designated Nationals List) since 2014, which implies the strictest possible restrictions, including the blocking of property and accounts, as well as a ban on maintaining business relations. For example, after being hit by the so-called "Crimean" sanctions eight years ago, AB Rossiya was deprived of the ability to issue Visa and MasterCard cards. The largest shareholders of Bank Rossiya were businessmen Yuri Kovalchuk, Nikolai Shamalov, Gennady Timchenko, Mikhail Shelomov, and Alexei Mordashov. The current shareholders of Rossiya are unknown, as the government has allowed banks under sanctions not to disclose information about their beneficiaries. The bank ranks 12th in the Interfax-100 ranking.

General bank operates in Crimea and is owned by Rossiya Bank. It, as well as the shareholder, has been under sanctions since 2014. The introduction of new restrictions will not affect the financial position and operations of the bank, board chairman Elena Blinova said on Tuesday, commenting on the decision of the British authorities.

Black Sea Bank operates in Crimea and is near the bottom of the second hundred Russian banks in terms of assets. It is owned by the Crimean government through the Ministry of Property and Land Relations and has also been under U.S. sanctions for several years.

IS Bank is registered in Moscow and has one branch in Simferopol. It is among the second hundred Russian banks in terms of assets, carrying out active operations in Crimea. According to SPARK-Interfax, at the end of 2020, the bank owned 24% in the Unified City Map of Sevastopol (UGCC), which provides contactless plastic cards for payment of fares on public transport in the city. The bank's shareholders are a group of individuals (the largest shareholder holds a 17% stake). In 2017, it was included on the U.S. sanctions list.