UK authorities allow payments to a Russian financial institution to secure the European Union’s gas supply
The United Kingdom has granted over a month’s payment authorization to Russia’s Gazprombank, despite sanctions imposed on the company and dozens of other Russian financial institutions last month.
The London Office of Financial Sanctions Implementation (OFSI) on Thursday issued a sanctions waiver for: “the purpose of making gas available for use in the European Union”, noting that the license expires on May 31.
It applies to contracts agreed with Gazprombank and its subsidiaries before Thursday, and it allows: “opening and closing bank accounts” as long as it helps to secure gas flow to the EU.
Following a series of other financial sanctions in the wake of Moscow’s attack on Ukraine, the British government imposed sanctions on Gazprombank late last month, including against other major financial firms such as Alfa Bank. However, when announcing the latest exemption, the Treasury cited a 2019 law that allows exemptions from sanctions against Russia under certain circumstances.
Despite pressure to punish Russia, a number of European countries remain dependent on Moscow’s energy supplies, sparking some reluctance to support calls for outright embargoes on gas, oil and coal.
Gazprombank is one of the largest banks in Russia in terms of assets, operating largely in the corporate and investment sectors. The United States and a series of allies imposed sanctions on the bank in February, imposing debt and equity restrictions after Russia attacked Ukraine, as part of a coordinated effort to “isolate” and “crippled” Russian economy.
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