(Adds quote, context)
By Oksana Kobzeva
MOSCOW, July 10 Russian state companies, the
backbone of the economy, can only have accounts at banks with
capital of no less than 10 billion roubles ($296 million) or at
those with ties to the government, a senior finance ministry
official said on Thursday.
The move, under discussion since June, is aimed at
protecting some of Russia's largest companies from an economic
downturn, worsened by Western sanctions over Ukraine, and to
protect depositors in the case banks lose their licenses.
Earlier, Russia's central bank had been discussing a
requirement that state companies would only be allowed to have
accounts at banks with capital of over 16.5 billion roubles
But Deputy Finance Minister Alexei Moiseev told Reuters that
the central bank and the Finance Ministry had now agreed that
state companies will be allowed to have accounts at banks with
capital of a lower amount - no less than 10 billion roubles.
"Banks must meet one of three criteria - their capital must
be no less than 10 billion roubles, or the bank is directly or
indirectly controlled by the state, or there is a special
situation where the government can put a bank on the list at the
request of a strategic company," said Moiseev.
This encapsulates a larger network of banks - some 100 banks
versus around 50 banks that would have met the previous
The companies, including some of the country's largest
energy, gas, banking and transport companies such as Rosneft
, Gazprom and Aeroflot, should also
hold accounts at banks directly or indirectly controlled by the
state, Moiseev said.
Russia's largest banks are the state-controlled Sberbank
The central bank has been on a campaign to clean up the
banking system and crack down on money laundering.
Russia just under 900 banks, mostly small, and many are
suspected of servicing the shadow economy. Since taking up her
position as central bank head last year, Elvira Nabiullina, has
made it clear she wants to tighten banking supervision and shore
up large-scale capital flight to boost the flagging economy. [ID
The government has also been considering banning state
companies and other strategically important firms from holding
accounts at foreign-owned banks, a source familiar with the
proposals told Reuters last month.
Analysts doubted that the plan would be adopted, saying it
would be highly damaging for Russia's investment climate and
would face opposition from major companies.
($1 = 33.8150 Russian Roubles)
(Reporting by Oksana Kobzeva; Writing by Lidia Kelly and Megan
Davies, editing by Elizabeth Piper)