The International Investment Bank (IIB), a multinational development institution headquartered in Hungary, was designated by the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) for potentially facilitating the evasion of U.S. sanctions against Russia.
Labeling the IIB as a “Russia-controlled financial institution” in a press release Wednesday, OFAC said it sanctioned the bank “for operating or having operated in the financial services sector of the Russian Federation economy and for being owned or controlled by, or for having acted or purported to act for or on behalf of, directly or indirectly, the Government of the Russian Federation.”
OFAC added the bank’s presence in Hungary “enables Russia to increase its intelligence presence in Europe; opens the door for the Kremlin’s malign influence activities in Central Europe and the Western Balkans; and could serve as a mechanism for corruption and illicit finance, including sanctions violations.”
The IIB, which moved its headquarters from Moscow to Budapest in 2019, also has a branch in Moscow. OFAC said the IIB is in danger of default and is maintaining operations only because of Russia’s support. The bank listed $1.5 billion euros (U.S. $1.66 billion) in total assets, according to its most recent financial statement.
OFAC also designated Moscow-based IIB Capital, which it called “the IIB’s fully owned subsidiary in Russia,” along with three current or former executives of the IIB whom the agency said “have coordinated with Russian Federation officials on IIB business even after Russia’s further invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.”
News of OFAC’s designation prompted Hungary to withdraw its delegates from the IIB, Reuters reported. OFAC said Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Romania, and Slovakia ended their participation in the IIB in February 2022.
The IIB’s website still claims Romania and Bulgaria as members, along with Russia, Cuba, Vietnam, and Mongolia. Reuters reported Romania’s withdrawal will be completed in June.
Russia owned 47 percent of the IIB’s shares in June 2022, according to its most recent financial statement, followed by Hungary (17 percent), Bulgaria (10 percent), the Czech Republic (9 percent), Slovakia (7 percent), and Romania (6 percent).
In all, OFAC designated 25 individuals and 29 entities in its latest round of sanctions, which had connections to 20 jurisdictions including Russia, Cyprus, the Cayman Islands, France, Uzbekistan, Slovakia, the Isle of Man, the United Arab Emirates, Germany, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, Austria, China, Turkey, and Hungary.
In February, OFAC announced a long list of sanctions against individuals and financial institutions judged to be either supporting Russia’s war effort or undermining existing U.S. sanctions, including a list of nearly a dozen regional Russian banks.
The IIB did not respond to a request for comment.
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