July 30 – August 5, 2012

Lukashenko accuses foreign banks of espionage

The situation has not changed
Lukashenko accuses foreign banks of espionage

President Alexander Lukashenko accused some foreign banks of passing financial records on Belarusian customers to third parties. First of all, the President implied subsidiaries of Russian banks and meant to strengthen Belarusian negotiating position vis-a-vis Russia concerning important issues of bilateral economic cooperation.

Alexander Lukashenko voiced his suspicions at July 23rd meeting with National Bank Chairwoman Nadezhda Ermakova. “What do you think about foreign banks’ operations? I received information that some foreign banks act as foreign agents in the full sense of the word”, the President said.

In Belarus there are 32 banks, only four of them with Belarusian capital (Belagroprombank, Belarusbank, Belinvestbank, Paritetbank). Foreign banks with capital from various countries operate in Belarus.

According to the National Bank, means of non-residents in liabilities in the banking system of Belarus in the first half of 2012 decreased by USD 521.5 million (8.7%) to USD 5.464 billion on July 1st. Accordingly, the share of nonresidents in the structure of liabilities in the Belarusian banks dropped from 19.3% on January 1st 2012 to 16% on July 1st this year. In other words, the banking system of the country is experiencing the outflow of foreign capital (net).

As of April 1st, 2012, the main foreign creditor of the Belarusian banking system was Russia – USD 2660.7 million (or 44.5% of the overall liabilities to nonresidents), Germany – USD 1197.2 million (20 %), Iran – USD 357.2 million (6%), Austria – USD 290.8 million (4.9%), United Kingdom – USD 228.2 million (3.8%), Netherlands – USD 173.1 million (2.9%), Italy – USD 136.9 million (2.3%), Switzerland – USD 134.8 million (2.3%), Poland – USD 117.2 million (2%).

Therefore presence of the Russian capital is the strongest (although during the analyzed period, it has gradually decreased). In particular, the largest Russian state-owned banks’ interests are represented in Belarus: Sberbank (it owns a subsidiary Belarusian BPS Bank Sberbank), Vnesheconombank (Belvnesheconombank), VTB (VTB / Belarus / and Bank Moscow-Minsk), Gazprombank (Belgazprombank).

In our opinion, Lukashenko’s statement referred to Russian banks and subsidiaries and meant to strengthen Belarusian negotiating position in negotiations with Russia on important issues of bilateral economic cooperation. Moreover, Belarusian authorities are interested in preventing further outflow of Russian capital from Belarusian banks.

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