A Russian court confiscates the assets of two European banks amid Western sanctions News of the Russian-Ukrainian war

The freeze on lenders’ assets worth hundreds of billions of dollars was part of the dispute over the gas project that was halted by sanctions.

A Russian court has ordered the confiscation of assets, accounts, property and shares of Deutsche Bank and Commerzbank in the country as part of a lawsuit involving the German banks, court documents showed.

Banks are among the guarantor lenders under a contract to build a gas processing plant in Russia with German company Linde. The project was terminated due to Western sanctions.

European banks have largely exited Russia after Moscow launched its attack on Ukraine in 2022.

Documents dated May 16 showed that a St. Petersburg court ruled in favor of seizing 239 million euros ($260 million) from Deutsche Bank.

Deutsche Bank in Frankfurt said it had already allocated about 260 million euros ($283 million) to the case.

“We will need to see how the Russian courts implement this claim and assess the immediate operational impact in Russia,” the bank added in a statement.

The court also confiscated the assets of Commerzbank, another German financial institution, worth 93.7 million euros ($101.85 million) as well as securities and the bank’s building in central Moscow.

The bank has not yet commented on the case.

In a parallel lawsuit on Friday, the Russian court also ordered the confiscation of UniCredit’s assets, accounts and property, as well as shares in two subsidiaries. The ruling covers assets worth 462.7 million euros ($503 million).

UniCredit Bank said it was “aware” of the decision and was “reviewing” the situation in detail. The bank was one of the European banks most at risk when Moscow launched its invasion of Ukraine, and it had a large local branch operating in Russia.

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Initial discussions about a sale began last year, but the talks did not advance. CEO Andrea Orcel said UniCredit wanted to leave Russia, but added that awarding a 3 billion euro ($3.3 billion) operation was not a good way to respect the spirit of Western sanctions on Moscow over the conflict.

Russia has faced severe Western sanctions, including on its banking sector, since the beginning of the war in Ukraine. Dozens of American and European companies have also stopped doing business in the country.

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