Goldman Sachs on Thursday announced plans to exit Russia, becoming the first major U.S. bank to take such action in the wake of the invasion of Ukraine.
“Goldman Sachs is winding down its business in Russia in compliance with regulatory and licensing requirements,” said a spokesperson for the bank in an emailed statement. “We are focused on supporting our clients across the globe in managing or closing out pre-existing obligations in the market and ensuring the well-being of our people.”
In a Form 10-K filing for fiscal year 2021 published Feb. 24, Goldman noted its credit and market exposure in Russia was $650 million and $414 million, respectively, as of December. The bank acknowledged in the filing concerns regarding the country’s economic and financial stability because of expected sanctions.
That same day, the United States sanctioned Russia’s two largest banks, Sberbank and VTB Bank, in addition to blocking other Russian financial institutions—actions “specifically designed to impose immediate costs and disrupt and degrade future economic activity, isolate Russia from international finance and commerce, and degrade the Kremlin’s future ability to project power,” the Treasury Department stated. U.S. allies announced similar measures.
JPMorgan Chase on Thursday joined Goldman in announcing its unwinding of business in Russia. The bank noted its current activities in the region to be “limited.”
Over the last two weeks, a growing list of companies have announced the suspension or end of operations in Russia. Other big U.S. banks have also hinted at the potential for change to come. Citigroup on Wednesday said in a statement it was assessing its future in Russia, of note given the bank’s exposure of approximately $10 billion in the region.
Outside the United States, Deutsche Bank’s Chief Financial Officer James von Moltke told CNBC on Thursday that the bank exiting Russia would not be “practical.” Deutsche Bank reported “limited and substantially mitigated risk exposures to Russia and Ukraine” in a media release Wednesday.
The Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network issued guidance Monday highlighting the types of red flags banks should be looking for regarding attempts by Russia to evade sanctions.
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