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Russian banks may have swapped gold for dollars, report says

Section: Daily Dispatches

From Bloomberg News
Wednesday, February 7, 2024

Some Russian banks appear to have maneuvered around a ban on shipping dollars and euros to the country by trading gold in the United Arab Emirates and Turkey, according to research from a financial-intelligence company.

The sanctions on the export of banknotes were introduced after the Kremlin's invasion of Ukraine. The report compiled by Sayari found that in the first quarter of 2023, the financial institutions -- which include Lanta Bank JSC, whose owners control gold miner GV Gold, and at least one lender that is not sanctioned -- imported more than the equivalent of $82 million in euros, dollars and UAE dirhams. 

The data shows that several of the same entities used to ship cash to Russia also imported gold from Russia within similar timeframes.

Bloomberg was unable to independently corroborate all the trade and company data, and it's not clear if the banks are still using the gold-for-cash strategy. 

Sayari's data indicated that various Russian lenders kept shipping gold for banknotes through at least July or August of last year, said Zachary Tvarozna, a senior analyst at the firm. He said that gold deliveries seem to have expanded to Hong Kong, in addition to the UAE and Turkey. ...

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