Raiffeisen Bank rejects deal related to Russian oligarch

Darina GertsevaNews
Austrian bank refuses to buy frozen assets of Russian oligarch
Austrian bank refuses to buy frozen assets of Russian oligarch. Source: Reuters.

Under pressure from Washington, Raiffeisen Bank International (RBI) has abandoned a deal to acquire Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska's frozen shares in construction company Strabag for 1.5 billion euros. The deal's failure was another setback for the largest Western bank in Russia, which has already been criticized for its ties to Moscow.

Reuters reports. "The bank announced after weeks of pressure on it over its plan to buy a stake in Deripaska-linked construction group Strabag to unlock bank funds that are currently frozen in Russia," the report said.

The plan has come under scrutiny by the US Treasury Department because sanctioned Oleg Deripaska is a key figure in the deal, making relations between Washington and the RBI even more strained. Some officials in Austria also warned the bank about the deal, believing it could violate sanctions, Reuters sources said.

Raiffeisen wanted to acquire a stake in Strabag, which the construction group viewed as controlled by a Russian oligarch. However, Deripaska has denied any ties to Strabag, calling Western sanctions against him untrue, but some U.S. officials suspect he could benefit from the sale.

Strabag is one of the largest construction companies in Europe. It built the Olympic Stadium for the Sochi Winter Games and luxury apartments in Moscow.

Earlier, RBI announced its intention to withdraw from Russia, but in April, the bank posted more than a thousand job ads in the country, indicating the financial group's intention to expand its operations. The company's slowness has led the US sanctions regulator OFAC to start inspecting the bank's Russian business. In this regard, Raiffeisen Bank has been under scrutiny for more than a year.

In addition, the Russian Raiffeisen Bank has been involved in a scandal. It turned out that Raiffeisen's Russian subsidiary officially recognizes the so-called LPR and DPR and calls Russia's war against Ukraine a "special operation" on its website and in the documents of its Russian representative office. The bank also directly assists the Russian occupiers by offering loan repayment holidays and preferential loans to mobilized Russians.

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