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US warns Austria and Raiffeisen Bank against cooperation with Russian banks

US warns Austria and Raiffeisen Bank against cooperation with Russian banks In the US, Austria and Raiffeisen Bank are warned against cooperation with Russian banks (photo: Getty Images)

US Treasury Department representative Anna Morris will warn banks about the risks of doing business in Russia, increasing pressure on the largest Western bank, Raiffeisen, according to Reuters.

As part of Washington's new pressure on sanctions, Morris will encourage Austrian banks to assess their vulnerability in Russia and take steps to mitigate it. Morris is the latest US official to visit Austria, where close relations with Russia are maintained.

An Austrian Finance Ministry spokesman said Morris will soon visit government agencies and companies to discuss money laundering and sanctions issues. Raiffeisen stated that they often consult on penalties and always comply with regulations. Washington has faced significant resistance from Austrian politicians and officials, most of whom defend the bank.

Despite significant support for Ukraine, Austria has stated that it does not want to sever its decade-long ties with Russia, believing that relations can still be restored. In addition, Vienna continues to press for Ukraine to remove the bank from its blacklist and international war sponsors list.

Russia has reported that the Austrian Raiffeisen Bank has:

  • 2600 corporate clients;
  • 4 million account owners;
  • 10,000 employees.

Earlier, the Austrian Raiffeisen Bank was investigated for money laundering and its operations in Russia. In its report, the bank stated that an investigation is underway in Austria focused on compliance with important security rules to prevent money laundering.

This is also related to an investigation by the US sanctions agency, the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC).

The Austrian investigation concerns payments related to Russia, as well as data revealed by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists as part of the Cyprus Papers project.

Experts are investigating payments made by three clients between 2017 and 2020. The results of the investigation could lead to fines, according to the bank's annual report.

Bank representatives stated that the Austrian regulator believes the bank did not fully fulfill its administrative duties.