Suspicious impotence of Russian Central Bank

Russian Central Bank fails to execute its authority over commercial banks.
Central Bank deprived Sodbusinessbank of its license on accusation of money-laundering (the first case of this kind in Russia) and appointed the new temporary manager of the bank - Kirill Tikhonkov. However, unidentified shareholders of Sodbusinessbank beat Russian Central Bank – they appointed their own manager for the bank, Boris Ponomarev, who issued the order not let Mr. Tikhonkov in. The police pursued the policy of neutrality, while Zelenogorsk Court of Kurort District in St. Petersburg cancelled the decision of the Central Bank on the license terminating.

Mr. Ponomarev submitted the copies of the court verdicts to Moscow press and gave his sarcastic comments. According to him, Central Bank prevents Sodbusinessbank from operating, restricts its access to the correspondent accounts and the electronic payment system. Mr. Ponomarev said that the Central Bank would be prosecuted if it did not comply with the court verdict. No Russian bank has dared to threaten Central Bank in this way.

Obviously, Central Bank will punish the escapade of Sodbusinessbank. Deputy Chairman of Russian Central Bank Andrey Kozlov said at the annual meeting of the Association of Russian Regional Banks that the Central Bank would be tough in pursuing the matter to punish Sodbusinessbank and other banks committing similar wrongdoings.

I would like to ask the heads of the Central Bank, Ministry of Finance and the government: why is the law so weak and impotent? The Central Bank produces amazing lack of power to punish the wrongdoer.  Sodbusinessbank needed a break badly, and it got this break. For this time, its unidentified owners could withdraw assets, destroy financial documents and even change the owner. As a result, the Central Bank will not have the right documents, and the bank customers will never have their money back.

Obviously, the owners and employees of Sodbusinessbank are good professionals. According to the Central Bank, in 2003 Sodbusinessbank laundered more than $1 billion. The real sum can be several times. One can think that either investigator of Russian Office of General Public Prosecutor lack qualification or the Central Bank employees are not professional enough to understand all the complicated schemes of money-laundering in Russia and fail to prevent such criminal.

However, criminals’ successful lobbying in Russian legislature can be the right explanation for the impotence of the Central Bank and law-enforcers. For some reasons, the State Duma deputies preferred to believe the arguments of Sodbusinessbank managers and other “questionable” business practitioners than the arguments of the authorities.

As a result, mysterious owners of Sodbusinessbank can take their (and other people’s) assets and run away. Later they can continue the money-laundering activity under some other name. Whose money will be laundered? Criminal gangs? Corrupted officials and policemen? I think that no reply can be found to this question in Russia. Demand creates supply, say our ideologists of market economy. They say that it is good.


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Author`s name Evgeniya Petrova