MasterCard and Visa resume services at two Russian banks

Western banks and financial institutions beginning to comply with U.S. sanctions.
By Ananth Baliga  |  March 24, 2014 at 11:46 AM
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WASHINGTON, March 24 (UPI) -- After shutting down services for banks and individuals named in U.S. economic sanctions, Visa and MasterCard have resumed services at two Russian banks.

Card services are now working at both SMP Bank and InvestCapitalBank, according to the banks. Meanwhile, card services at two other Russian banks -- Rossiya and a subsidiary, Sobinbank -- continue to be blocked.

Services were suspended after the U.S.issued sanctions against two individuals -- Arkady Rotenberg and Boris Rotenberg -- who were shareholders in the banks.

"This is not an unusual situation when sanctions are issued. Questions are raised, and refinements are made by the regulators from time to time," Mastercard said in a statement. "We will continue our active dialogue with regulators and our efforts to minimize the impact on the Russian payments market."

Bank Rossiya has asked its customers to stop making foreign exchange payments until further notice. The pressure was evident at Russia's 17th largest bank, which has interests in oil and gas and controls $10 billion worth of assets.

Western financial institutions and banks have been responding to U.S. sanctions against institutions and people close to Russian President Vladimir Putin. Russian businesses have borrowed heavily from the West and the escalating crisis in Ukraine has forced banks and financial institutions to comply with U.S. sanctions.

While many banks and institutions haven't commented on whether they would change their approach to Russia, institutions like Bank of America, Deutsche Bank and ING said they would honor any U.S. sanctions.


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