* Putin has called co-owner of Privat group "impostor"
* Chairman confident central bank will back Moskomprivatbank
By Katya Golubkova and Natalia Zinets
MOSCOW/KIEV, March 6 The Russian central bank
said on Thursday it was putting the Moscow subsidiary of
Ukraine's Privatbank into temporary administration, but that it
would not revoke the bank's licence.
Russia and Ukraine are in a dangerous armed stand-off
following months of unrest in Kiev and the ousting of President
Viktor Yanukovich. Moscow has refused to recognise the new
government in Kiev, although President Vladimir Putin has
instructed his government to establish contacts.
Privatbank is a part of Ukraine's Privat group, co-founded
and co-owned by Igor Kolomoisky, who was appointed by Ukraine's
Acting President Oleksandr Turchinov as governor of
Dnipropetrovsk region, Kolomoisky's birthplace, a few days ago.
Putin on Tuesday called Kolomoisky "a unique impostor",
accusing him of violating a contract with Russian businessman
"And such a scoundrel was made a governor of Dnipropetrovsk
region," the Russian president told a press briefing in which he
talked about widespread corruption in Ukraine. Putin did not
elaborate which business deal between Abramovich and Kolomoisky
he was referring to.
The central bank said in a statement the decision to appoint
an interim administration for Moskomprivatbank, Russia's No.95
by assets according to Interfax data, was effective immediately.
"The role of the temporary administration is to oversee the
lending institution and to control the disposal of its
property," the central bank said in a statement.
Privatbank, founded in 1992, is Ukraine's largest. According
to public information, Kolomoisky owns a 33.9 percent stake in
the bank and his business partner Gennady Bogolyubov 34.2.
Kolomoisky held just over 2 percent in Russia's largest
steel producer Evraz, of which Abramovich is the
largest shareholder, as of early 2013. There is no public
information available on Kolomoisky's current stake in Evraz.
Elvira Nabuillina, Russia's central bank head since last
year, has started to tighten regulation of the domestic banking
system, which consists of around 1,000 banks, in a wider move to
tackle the shadow economy.
Since Nabuillina became central bank governor over 30
banking licenses have been revoked, notably Master Bank, which
cost the state about 30 billion roubles in retail deposit
insurance payments, Russia's largest pay-out to date.
Moskomprivatbank, with assets of 50 billion roubles ($1.4
billion), has capital requirement ratios above the levels
required by the Russian central bank to keep a banking licence.
According to the central bank's data for January, the latest
available, it had no violations of capital requirements.
The central bank declined to comment further.
Dmitry Barbayanov, chairman of Moskomprivatbank, said in a
statement on Thursday that interim administration - a rare move
by the Russian central bank - would last 10 days. He said it had
"no economic grounds" and aimed to help the bank to meet "high
clients' demand" if it arises.
"We are sure that the central bank will throw its weight
behind Moskomprivatbank and won't allow politicians to break the
normal regime of client service," he said in a statement.
Kolomoisky, 51, is ranked the third richest man in Ukraine
with an estimated fortune of $2.4 billion, according to
He co-founded the Privat metals and banking group, which
runs a number of oil, gas and steel companies.
On Thursday, Crimea's parliament voted to join Russia and
Crimea's Moscow-backed parliament set a referendum on the move
within 10 days in a dramatic escalation of the crisis over