July 20, 2017 / 8:03 AM / 2 years ago

Prosecutors tell Russian central bank to reverse Yugra orders

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia’s top prosecutor has demanded that the central bank reverse a decision to bring in temporary administrators to Bank Yugra and overturn a moratorium on creditor claims to the bank.

It is rare that a government official or body challenges the central bank’s purge of the banking system, which has gathered pace under Governor Elvira Nabiullina and is backed by President Vladimir Putin.

The central bank earlier this month ordered a temporary administration to take the reins at Yugra for six months and imposed a three-month moratorium on creditor claims, saying it was acting in the interests of creditors and depositors and that it wanted to investigate the financial position of the bank.

Yugra is the 33rd largest bank in Russia by assets, according to an Interfax ranking, and it is in the top 20 by the size of its deposits.

The office of Russia’s Prosecutor General intervened in the episode late on Wednesday, issuing a statement saying it believed Yugra was financially stable and had sufficient liquidity.

The central bank had not found that Yugra had violated mandatory banking norms, it said, adding that introducing a temporary administration to Yugra harmed the federal budget, lowered the availability of funds for small and medium-sized businesses, stoked inflation, and damaged the investment climate.

The central bank, which earlier said it saw signs that Yugra’s accounts had been falsified, said it would examine prosecutors’ demands and respond in due course.

On Thursday, Yugra’s depositors started receiving insurance payouts organised by Russia’s state Deposit Insurance Agency (DIA), meaning it is unlikely that the central bank will revoke its orders on Yugra.

The Russian state, via the DIA, covers depositors’ losses up to 1.4 million roubles (around $23,650) in banks which encounter financial difficulties.

The central bank has said payouts of around 170 billion roubles to Yugra’s depositors could be needed.

Yugra said in a statement that its owner, Alexei Khotin, was working with senior management and independent consultants to draw up a plan to rescue the bank. That plan would need to be agreed with the central bank.

Reporting by Alexander Winning and Elena Fabrichnaya; Editing by Andrew Osborn

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