Sanctions on Russia Leave Sberbank in Slovenia with Limited Operations until Wednesday

By , 28 Feb 2022, 11:16 AM Business

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STA, 28 February 2022 - As a consequence of sanctions against Russia, the operation of the Russian bank Sberbank in Slovenia has been temporarily limited to card transactions, the central bank announced on Monday. Other services will be unavailable until Wednesday, and branch offices closed. Withdrawals and payments are limited to EUR 400 per day.

This comes as the European Central Bank (ECB) said that the Sberbank Europe group, including its branches in Slovenia and Croatia, would "fail or is likely to fail", as it would probably not be able to settle its liabilities on time due to deteriorating liquidity.

Banka Slovenije said in a press release that a decision was made on Sunday at the level of the ECB and the Single Resolution Board to suspend the operations of Sberbank Europe, which has a subsidiary in Slovenia.

A transitional period. i.e. short-term moratorium has been adopted, during which a "quick and constructive solution will be found for the Slovenian subsidiary" in order to ensure uninterrupted operation for all its clients, the central bank added.

"For the clients of the Slovenian Sberbank, this means that the bank's operations will be limited to payment card operations from Monday to Wednesday morning. Other services will be temporarily unavailable and branch offices will be closed. During this time, we will find an appropriate way to salvage the bank."

The press release adds that Sberbank was the only bank in the Slovenian banking system that is Russian-owned, while all other banks operated as usual.

The Slovenian branch of Sberbank announced today that "in light of recent geopolitical events" a significant outflow of client funds had been recorded in a very short time.

It added that the limited operation was a temporary and "rather drastic measure" that was aimed at protecting the interests of clients and employees from possible additional effects of existing and new sanctions.

"With this measure, we will limit the excessive outflow of deposits from the bank. A sudden high outflow of deposits would have an even more negative impact on the bank's current operations," the bank said, adding that payment orders would not be executed in the next two days.

The bank noted that it was a Slovenian bank that operated in the local market, that it was regulated by Banka Slovenije and that it did most of its business with Slovenian clients.

Finance Minister Andrej Šircelj commented on the developments by saying that, in addition to sanctions, solutions had been adopted to ensure the security of savers in Sberbank. He noted that savings were safe.

"The security of savings is guaranteed by the Deposit Guarantee Fund, to which banks pay regular annual contributions, and the state budget. In addition, savings of up to EUR 100,000 are secured by state guarantees. This also applies to Sberbank," he added.

Sberbank has been present in Slovenia for 10 years and is currently the ninth largest bank in Slovenia in terms of total assets.

Gorenjska Banka, the Slovenian bank owned by the Serbian AIK Banka, signed a deal to acquire the Slovenian subsidiary of Sberbank last November, but the transaction is now uncertain due to the sanctions against Russia.

Slovenia's Sberbank recorded EUR 1.12 million in pre-tax profit in 2020, and its capital adequacy was 19.8%. Total assets amounted to EUR 1.84 billion.

At the end of 2020, the bank held EUR 1.34 billion in deposits by non-bank clients, of which deposits by individuals amounted to EUR 484 million. Loans to households amounted to EUR 446.69 million, and loans to companies to EUR 755.42 million.

It employed 388 people in the network of 12 branch offices in Ljubljana, Maribor, Koper, Kranj, Celje, Šentjur, Šentjernej and Tepanje, and in the micro entrepreneurship financing centre in Ljubljana.

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