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European Parliament calls on Austria to pressure Raiffeisen bank to leave Russia

by Abbey Fenbert April 26, 2024 2:11 AM 2 min read
The logo of Raiffeisen Bank International (RBI) is pictured above the entrance of the bank's headquarters on Feb. 1, 2023 in Vienna, Austria. (Heinz-Peter Bader/Getty Images)
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The European Parliament sent a letter on April 25 to Austria's leaders, urging them to compel Raiffeisen Bank International (RBI) to cease its activities in Russia in compliance with EU sanctions.

The Vienna-based bank group, the largest remaining Western bank in Russia, has been under increasing pressure since the start of the all-out war to scale down its activities in the country.

The European Parliament's letter, addressed to Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer, Finance Minister Magnus Brunner, and Foreign Affairs Minister Alexander Schallenberg, cited reports that Raiffeisen was planning to continue and expand its operations in Russia.

"We deeply regret that Raiffeisen Bank International's statements and actions are fully
contradictory," the letter said.

"Instead of repeated statements about intentions to reduce and sell their activities in Russia, the Raiffeisen Bank International is the Western lender with the largest operations in Russia."

Raiffeisen said on April 18 that it expects European regulators to request an acceleration of the bank's withdrawal from Russia, and that it would comply with those requests.

The bank said the European Central Bank (ECB) will soon ask Raiffeisen to significantly decrease loans to customers in Russia by 2026. Raiffeisen said it would abide by this request and eventually sell its Russian subsidiary.

The European Parliament said these statements were not enough, and that Raiffeisen has no excuse for maintaining and increasing its staff of nearly 10,000 employees in Russia.

"Let us be clear — activities of Raiffeisen Bank International in Russia contribute to Russia s
economy and budget, and provide financial resources for continued military aggression against Ukraine," the letter said.

Ukraine has refused to remove Raiffeisen from its international sponsors of war list due to its continued operations in Russia.

EU preparing 14th sanctions package against Russia this spring
“We have started preparing a 14th sanctions package, which should be adopted in spring,” Commissioner Valdis Dombrovskis said at the “Standing with Ukraine: European Parliament’s legacy for the sanctions regime” conference of the Socialists and Democrats parliamentary group in Brussels.
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