The Director of the Department for Financial Monitoring and Currency Control of the Central Bank Elena Ishchenko announced yesterday that two thirds of Russian banks are complicit in money laundering. According to her, last year the Central Bank examined the activity of 797 credit organizations and in 90-95% of cases questions arose concerning actions taken against the legalization of their income. The regulator employed various measures, ranging from the usual orders to correct the infringement to revoking the bank’s license. According to Ms. Ishchenko, in the last year the Central Bank imposed 284 fines, in 238 cases took the decision to prohibit banks from carrying out certain types of operation, issued 373 orders to correct the infringements which had been detected, and in 14 cases withdrew their license. Participants in the market, admittedly, do not see anything terrible about this statistic and note that now, in contrast to events of the last two years, the regulator is reporting on successes in the fight against money laundering more circumspectly.
In the view of the analyst for Troika Dialog Sergey Donskoy we should not dramatize the situation: “The question is what to consider as an infringement”. According to the Deputy Leader of the Federal Financial Monitoring Service (FFMS) Dmitry Skobelkin, “among the banks which are violating the “anti-laundering” law, there are credit organizations which are neither organizing nor actively participating in dubious activities, but who are let down by their clients”. Each case should be examined separately, since revoking a bank’s license is the equivalent of a “death sentence”, he thinks. In connection with this, Mr. Donskoy continues, “many Russian banks really are legalizing revenue, and it is good that the Central Bank is examining their activities”.
Bankers themselves are actively helping the authorities to expose the dubious operations of their clients. According to Mr. Skobelkin’s figures, the volume of information sent in by banks to the FFMS doubled last year, to 3 million reports. However, ‘Rosfinmonitoring’ is not too happy with such an increased activity on behalf of the banks. About 5% of the data received from banks contains technical mistakes. “This either shows that the banks are insufficiently aware of the demands of how the information should be presented, or that they are deliberately clogging up our base with incorrect reports,” speculates Skobelkin.
Representatives of both the Central Bank and the FFMS are guardedly commenting on the results of their activities, and are not planning to shock the public with announcements about black lists and the imminent withdrawal of banks’ licenses. “The regulator is now pursuing a more cautious policy with regard to announcing the results of their fight against money laundering and is not going to pinpoint their attention on any specific cases,” says Mr. Donskoy. “At least the story of the last two years is not being repeated, when information about black lists became one of the reasons for the instability in the banking sector.”
Translated by James Platt