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UAE revokes licence of sanctioned Russian bank

March 31, 2023 at 12:18 pm

Central Bank of UAE [Achilver/wikipedia]

The United Arab Emirates’ central bank today said it will cancel the licence it granted last year to Russia’s MTS bank, which was placed under British and US sanctions in February, Reuters reports.

Operations at the bank’s UAE branch, which is licensed in the emirate of Abu Dhabi, will be wound down within six months under central bank supervision.

“This decision comes after considering the available options regarding the new status of the MTS Bank and taking into account the sanctions risks associated with the bank,” the UAE central bank’s statement said.

During the winding down process the branch will not be allowed to open new accounts or conduct transactions apart from clearing prior obligations, for which it will be allowed to use the central bank’s payment systems.

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The UAE, a member of the OPEC+ oil alliance that includes Russia, has maintained good ties with Moscow despite Western pressure to isolate Russia over the invasion of Ukraine. It has not matched global sanctions imposed on Moscow.

Large numbers of Russians have sought a safe haven in the UAE since the Ukraine conflict began. US officials have visited the UAE to discuss with regulators including the central bank the importance of clamping down on sanctions evasion.

MTS Bank, a fintech unit of Russia’s largest mobile operator Mobile TeleSystems MTSS.MM, was part of a broader sanctions package against 200 entities and individuals announced in February on the first anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

MTS had no immediate comment.

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