A senior aide to Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy said major US banks should be prosecuted over “war crimes” for financing trade with Russia’s regime.
Oleg Ustenko, president Zelenskyy’s economic adviser, took aim at JPMorgan, HSBC and Citigroup, saying the Ukrainian government believes by financing companies that trade oil with Russia, the banks are aiding the Kremlin’s assault on Ukraine, CNBCreported.
In an interview on 26 July, Ustenko said: “Everybody who is financing these war criminals, who are doing these terrible things in Ukraine, are also committing war crimes in our logic.”
A JPMorgan spokesperson said the bank has played “an active role in implementing the United States and allied nations’ policies and sanctions on Russia for its invasion and ongoing atrocities” against the people of Ukraine.
“Managing these evolving sanctions has been an enormous undertaking for all global financial institutions, who have quickly and diligently implemented multilateral sanctions on Russia’s major banks, its central bank, companies and individuals,” they added. “We support and comply with the Western world’s policies and sanctions against Russia.”
The bank is actively helping the Ukrainian government, most recently through arranging a standstill on its debt. It is the only bank working on this.
Citi did not comment but referenced a 14 March blogpost about its assessment of Russia operations.
HSBC did not respond to requests for comment from Financial News.
Ustenko previously wrote to the chief executive of JPMorgan, Jamie Dimon, and HSBC, Noel Quinn, to ask them to step back from financing firms that sell Russian-backed oil and gas, including Gazprom and Rosneft, according to the Financial Times.
His letters also noted that shares in Gazprom and Rosneft are held by HSBC and Credit Agricole’s asset management units, while JPMorgan provides credit lines to oil and gas firm Vitol, which ships significant amounts of Russian oil, while the firm’s Russian Securities investment trust has stakes in Gazprom, Sberbank and Rosneft.
Citigroup also extends credit facilities to Moscow’s Lukoil and Vitol.
Ustenko said the country’s justice department would seek legal action against the banks in the International Criminal Court after the war ends.
“They are committing war crimes because they are helping the Putin regime in this specific way and they are supporting the regime,” he told the FT.
Citigroup and Credit Agricole did not provide comment on Ustenko’s letters but noted former statements citing how they are suspending and trimming down their Russia-linked activities. HSBC did not comment on the FT’s report.
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