Russia's central bank withdraws licences from three banks

MOSCOW, March 18 Tue Mar 18, 2014 1:17am EDT

MOSCOW, March 18 (Reuters) - Russia's central bank has revoked the licences of three small Moscow-based banks, pressing its crackdown on money laundering and risky operations in the country's banking sector.

The central bank said on Tuesday it had revoked licences from three banks - Russky Zemelny Bank, S-Bank and Bank Stroikredit. It said it had also revoked the licence of ZAO MIGOM, which offered a money transfer service.

Since Elvira Nabiullina, a former economy minister and aide to President Vladimir Putin, became central bank chief in June last year, the bank has stepped up a campaign to clean up the banking sector, whittling down Russia's hundreds of banks.

It said in a statement that Russky Zemelny Bank, which offered credit to small and medium business as well as providing mortgages, had breached laws against money laundering and on financing "terrorism". The bank's "dubious" operations amounted to 15 billion roubles ($413.3 million) in 2013, it said.

S-Bank and Bank Stroikredit were placed under administration after failing to build the necessary reserves to cushion against "risky operations", the central bank said.

The bank said it had withdrawn the licence from ZAO MIGOM for failing to build up reserves and to pay off loans on time. ($1 = 36.2975 Russian Roubles) (Reporting by Vladimir Soldatkin, editing by Elizabeth Piper)

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