3 Apr 2023 16:45

No quick solution to problem of frozen asset swaps, but work underway - Russian finance minister

MOSCOW. April 3 (Interfax) - There are no quick solutions of the problem of exchanging the frozen assets of investors, which the European Union and Russia have blocked reciprocally, but work is underway, Russian Finance Minister Anton Siluanov said.

"There is probably no quick solution. But our assets are frozen there, and their assets are frozen here, for sure. Our task is to bring them together, these assets, one before the other, and try to do a swap," he said in an interview with the blogger Ksenia Paderina.

"All parties are interested in a swap," he said.

"This is not a simple situation, you'll not resolve it quickly, but work is underway," Siluanov said.

Euroclear and Clearstream as of the beginning of March ceased operations of inter-depository bridges with the National Settlement Depository (NSD), and the provision has been legally enshrined since the beginning of June at the level of the European Union, which had imposed sanctions against the NSD. The European Commission in October published clarifications that gave the market some hope regarding the fate of the frozen assets. According to the document, the authorities of individual EU member states could authorize transactions required for closing contracts and agreements, which had been concluded before sanctions were imposed against the NSD on June 3, by January 7, 2023. The NSD, in turn, said that following agreement with Euroclear and external European consultants, it had sent requests for general licenses to the respective Belgian and Luxembourg ministries of finance in order to unblock the assets of all non-sanctioned investors, and it had expected to receive a general permit in October.

Russia implemented its own restrictions nearly simultaneously with the suspension of inter-depository bridges with the EU. As per the presidential decree dated March 5, special "C" type ruble accounts were introduced. Among other matters, income from securities owned by "unfriendly" non-residents is blocked on these accounts, and the Russian authorities must grant permission to convert the income into currency. According to the Central Bank of Russia, funds in these accounts exceeded 280 billion rubles as at the beginning of November - more recent data have not been published.