Sanctions forcing Russia's Sberbank to close UAE office, company says

Russia's dominant lender Sberbank will be forced to close its office in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) early next year, First Deputy Chairman Alexander Vedyakhin said on Monday, blaming sanctions pressure, reports citing Reuters.

Sweeping Western sanctions targeted Russia's financial system after Moscow sent tens of thousands of troops into Ukraine on Feb. 24. Sberbank is one of several major Russian banks to have been blocked from the international SWIFT payments system and some senior executives have been personally hit by sanctions.

"Unfortunately, in the context of sanctions restrictions, we are facing serious constraints on our SberInvest Middle East office in Abu Dhabi and we, unfortunately, are forced to close it in the first quarter of 2023," Vedyakhin told reporters.

He said Sberbank would continue serving clients in the UAE market and that active communications were underway with Chinese regulators about opening an office there.

"I hope that by the end of 2023 we will be able to open a branch in China, usually this takes 1-1/2 to 2 years," Vedyakhin said.

Sberbank's European arm, based in Vienna, was closed by order of the European Central Bank in March, after the ECB warned that the bank faced failure due to a run on deposits.

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