Russia's Bank of Moscow may expand in Crimea - paper

MOSCOW, March 25 Tue Mar 25, 2014 7:17am EDT

MOSCOW, March 25 (Reuters) - Russian banks may want to develop their business in Crimea, with VTB's Bank of Moscow most interested in expanding there, Kommersant newspaper reported on Tuesday citing sources.

Moscow formally annexed Crimea last week and since then its forces have been seizing Ukrainian military bases. Russia's action has drawn strong criticism from the European Union and the United States, which have imposed sanctions mainly against Russian individuals.

Kommersant reported that an option being considered for Crimea's banks could lead to a Russian bank establishing 300 branches in the region. Crimea has around 70 banks currently registered with the National Bank of Ukraine.

The paper reported that Bank of Moscow, bought by Russia's second largest bank VTB in 2011, is showing the greatest interest in such a plan. It may not open branches under its own name, but through a subsidiary, the paper cited a source as saying.

Bank of Moscow declined to comment.

Crimean Deputy Prime Minister Rustam Temirgaliyev has been quoted by Russian media as saying Crimea will drop the Ukrainian hryvnia and adopt the Russian rouble in April, and will have a banking system completed by April 15.

(Reporting by Megan Davies. Editing by Jane Merriman)

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