U.S. sanctions authority probes Raiffeisen on Russia
"U.S. sanctions authority probes Raiffeisen on Russia", 17. February 2023
FRANKFURT/VIENNA, Feb 17 (Reuters) - The United States' sanctions authority has launched an inquiry into Raiffeisen Bank International (RBIV.VI) over its business related to Russia, increasing scrutiny of the Austrian lender that plays a critical role in the Russian economy.
Responding to questions from Reuters, the bank said it had received a request from the U.S. Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) in January to "clarify payments business and related processes maintained by RBI in light of the recent developments related to Russia and Ukraine."
OFAC had asked Raiffeisen for details of its exposure in Russia, the partially occupied Donbas, Ukraine and Syria, including about the transactions and activity of certain clients, a source told Reuters.
The U.S. agency had requested a reply by February, said that person, adding that Raiffeisen's lawyers negotiated an extension, pledging to answer the questions in three tranches of information to be sent to in early April, May and June.
A spokesperson for U.S. Treasury Department declined to comment.
Raiffeisen told Reuters in a statement that it was cooperating fully with OFAC and that it understood the request was not triggered by a specific transaction or business. It said it had processes in place to ensure compliance with sanctions.
A spokesperson said it was "confident that the information provided to OFAC will satisfy their request", adding that the questions posed were of a 'general nature'.
Raiffeisen has not been sanctioned in the past, but the January information request is worrying European financial regulators responsible for oversight of the bank because of the potential that it could ultimately lead to penalties against Raiffeisen, said two people with direct knowledge of the matter.
Raiffeisen is deeply embedded in the Russian financial system and is one of the only two foreign banks on the Russian central bank's list of 13 "systemically important credit institutions", underscoring its importance to Russia's economy, which is grappling with sweeping Western sanctions. [...]