US threatens to cut off Raiffeisenbank from dollars for operating in Russia

US authorities may impose sanctions against Austria’s Raiffeisen Bank International (RBI) for doing business in Russia, EUobserver writes.

U.S. officials warned RBI that if it continues to do business in Russia, the bank risks being “cut off from the U.S. financial system” – this will deprive the bank of the ability to conduct dollar transactions, and major banks will stop interacting with it.

RBI said that “for reasons of principle they do not comment on discussions with the authorities”.

A U.S. Treasury Department delegation led by Anne Maurice, the official in charge of overseeing the sanctions, traveled to Austria this week. In Vienna, Maurice met with Austrian officials and representatives of Raiffeisen Bank International.

Maurice demanded “appropriate action” and also informed the RBI management about Joe Biden’s December decree on sanctions, due to which banks in Turkey, China and the UAE have already started blocking settlements with Russia.

The bank remains one of the last “windows to the world” for Russian citizens and companies, makes foreign currency payments and has 4 million retail and 2.6 thousand corporate clients in the country.

Raiffeisenbank has been consistently restricting transactions for Russian clients since the summer. In July, it banned euro transfers to 14 countries, including former Soviet republics and states that have become major hubs for parallel imports into Russia. The restrictions affected Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Georgia, Jordan, Moldova, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.

A month later, the bank announced that it would stop buying and accepting cash currency from individuals, and then introduced a 50 percent fee for depositing dollars from other banks.

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