Banking in Russia
Russia is a very large country, and it can be difficult to do business there, notably with current sanctions and denied parties lists. However, most treasury transactions are possible, even if some require prior approval from the authorities and there can be burdensome administration. The currency is not restricted: it can be converted, pooled, and remitted out of the country.
Most participants use mainly foreign banks. Amongst these, Citi is the one used most often, though several participants expressed concern over the level of service and reactiveness, which can be disappointing.
Service outside the Moscow area can be a problem. Many western banks rushed to open nationwide branch networks when the country opened up: most of these have now been closed. Raiffeisen was the major player before the country opened up: they are still present, and several participants use them for services, such as payroll, where the bank needs to have a retail presence, as well as be able to handle business outside Moscow.
Several participants use Rosbank and have been satisfied with their services. Rosbank is a subsidiary of France’s Société Générale: they have been the foreign bank which has maintained the largest commitment to the country, and Rosbank has a branch network which enables it to provide a complete nationwide service. Some have also found themselves using certain banks for specific areas, where they would not normally do so in other countries.
Finally, there was a discussion about sanctions, and how some banks can be very helpful in effectively pre-screening payments for denied parties, to avoid potential issues further down the line.
The discussion below is very detailed, and reflects the many operating issues treasurers face in the country. But the main conclusion is the same: Russia is open for business, and you can do most things, including cash pooling, cash repatriation, and working with foreign banks.
But it can be hard work.
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