February 9, 2018 / 10:12 AM / 2 years ago

Russian tycoons say U.S. 'oligarch list' may cause problems with banks

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russian companies may start experiencing problems in their dealings with banks as a result of the U.S. government’s so-called “oligarch list,” several businessmen named in the list said on Friday.

Russian billionaire Andrei Melnichenko attends a session during the Week of Russian Business, organized by the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs (RSPP), in Moscow, Russia February 9, 2018. REUTERS/Sergei Karpukhin

In late January, dozens of Russian billionaires were included in a list drafted by the U.S. Treasury Department, in line with a sanctions package signed into law last year, but the list did not imply the people named were, or would be in the future, subject to any restrictions.

“Compliance of all banks, of European banks in particular, will be more cautious, more nit-picking, of course,” said Vladimir Yevtushenkov, a controlling shareholder of Russian business conglomerate Sistema (AFKS.MM).

“Of course, it will be much harder to syndicate loans... It is a serious blow and we need to work out our strategy, how we’re going to live with it,” Yevtushenkov, who features on the list, told reporters.

He and other businessmen were speaking before a meeting between President Vladimir Putin and the Russian Union of Industrialists, known informally as the “oligarch union”, in Moscow on Friday.

The U.S. list was discussed during a closed-door part of the meeting, but discussion was brief and not substantive, the head of the Union, Alexander Shokhin, told reporters. He did not provide further details.

During the open part of the meeting, Putin made no mention of the U.S. list but said that “the sanctions challenge” would most likely persist for some time.

He also said that “the policy of artificially restricting international business relations” is a path that will “lead everyone, including the originators of such policies, to miss out on profits and to incur direct losses.”

Russian businessman Andrei Melnichenko, who controls the Russia-focused fertilizer producer Eurochem, also said Russian companies could experience problems in future dealings with banks as a result of the list.

“It’s unpredictable. Probably, there will be some difficulties,” he said.

The list does not mean anything good and those included on it could potentially face delays in external financing, Vagit Alekperov, co-owner of oil producer Lukoil (LKOH.MM), said.

“Lukoil works in the global market, of course, our partners will be approaching deals more carefully,” said Alekperov.

“It is a real list. The pure fact of its existence is already negative.”

Reporting by Denis Pinchuk and Darya Korsunskaya; Writing by Polina Nikolskaya and Polina Devitt; Editing by Mark Potter and Kirsten Donovan

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