Credit Suisse Stops New Business in Russia, Cuts Exposure
(Bloomberg) -- Credit Suisse Group AG has stopped pursuing new business in Russia and is cutting its exposure to the country, following global peers in pulling back after the invasion of Ukraine.
The Swiss bank is helping its clients unwind their Russia exposure, according to an internal document seen by Bloomberg. The bank added that it has moved roles out of the country and is assisting employees to relocate elsewhere. A spokesperson for Credit Suisse confirmed the content of the document.
Credit Suisse joins a growing list of lenders who are either pulling out of Russia altogether or paring back their business, in response to the ongoing military assault on its neighbor. Chief Executive Officer Thomas Gottstein said on March 15 that the bank has “a very well managed risk management around the situation.”
The Zurich-based bank said earlier this month it had an exposure of 848 million francs ($906 million) to Russia at the end of last year and about 125 employees there. About 4% of assets in the wealth management unit were with Russian clients, the bank has said.
Credit Suisse shares pared gains after the news, and were down 2.4% as of 4:57 p.m. in Zurich. Separately, the bank was asked by U.S. lawmakers about its compliance with sanctions imposed on Russia, after a recent report said the bank asked investors to destroy information about its dealings with wealthy clients.
The bank said its net credit exposure includes derivatives and financing exposures in the investment bank, trade finance exposures in the Swiss Universal Bank and Lombard and other loans in international wealth management. These net exposures have been reduced since the end of 2021, it said.
At Zurich-based rival UBS Group AG, CEO Ralph Hamers said at an event earlier in March that the bank is not doing any new business in Russia and is seeking to reduce risk for itself and clients.
Credit Suisse said Monday that it’s applying all sanctions, in particular those issued by the European Union, the U.K., the U.S. and Switzerland.
The role of Switzerland as a place for Russia’s wealthy to stash their money is coming under increased scrutiny, after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy criticized the nation earlier this month. The government in Bern said last week that it had received notification of some $6 billion in assets held by sanctioned individuals.
Wealthy Russians with links to President Vladimir Putin have seen their assets frozen across the world, while other rich bank clients who borrowed against Russian assets have to come up with more collateral after those securities plunged in value.
Swiss private bank Julius Baer said last week that it has exposure to a number of individuals “in the low single digits” who have been sanctioned since the invasion of Ukraine, and is not taking new business from clients resident in Russia.
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