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Russia’s Sberbank President German Gref is concerned over Kazakhstan’s moves to restrict operations of foreign banks

28 января 2013, 11:27
Russia’s Sberbank President German Gref. © RIA Novosti
Russia’s Sberbank President German Gref. © RIA Novosti
Russia’s Sberbank President German Gref is concerned that Kazakhstan, a EurAsEC member state, is taking steps to restrict operations of foreign banks in Kazakhstan, including those of Sberbank that is operating through its subsidiary. His critical remarks were formulated in a letter to EurAsEC Integration Committee Chairman Igor Shuvalov (Russia’s First Vice PM), Russia’s Izvestia newspaper reports.

Most of all, Mr. Gref is concerned over the policy exercised by the Kazakhstan’s Samruk-Kazyna Sovereign Wealth Fund. According to Mr. Gref, Samruk – Kazyna has suggested limiting amounts that can be deposited with foreign banks by the country’s largest national companies. This measure is discriminating and hampers competition within EurAsEC.

Samruk-Kazyna voiced the suggestion in November 2012 at a round table discussion in the Nur Otan ruling party HQ. The round table discussion was focused on long money for Kazakh banks. According to Ms. Elena Bakhmutova, Vice Chairwoman of Samruk Kazyna Board, national companies owned by the Government through Samruk Kazyna are responsible for 1/3 of legal entities’ deposits with Kazakhstan-based banks, with 15% of the amoun being deposited with foreign banks operating in Kazakhstan. From that sitting on Samruk Kazyna intended to have its companies depositing their money primarily with Kazakh banks, according to Izvestia newspaper.

Sberbank’s Kazakhstan subsidiary was opened back in 2006 and is ranked 7th by its assets (there are a total of 38 banks operating in Kazakhstan). The bank is ranked among the top three by its credit ratings. Sberbank of Kazakhstan has a network of 92 outlets. Due to the Samruk-Kazyna’s decision the bank may lose $800 million deposited by legal entities.

Mr. Gref urged Mr. Shuvalov “to consider the issue at its early stage and have the suggestion rectified”. According to Izvestia newspaper, the Eurasian Economic Committee has already forwarded a letter to the Kazakh side “expressing concern over the situation and asking for more detailed information”.

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