Russia banking: The Yugra illusions
On a recent visit to the Russian central bank on a wintry day, Euromoney’s eye was caught by a chap holding a large and surprisingly professionally produced billboard.
Bearing the logo of recently defunct Yugra Bank, it read: “CB RF [Central Bank of the Russian Federation] – give the money back! MVD [Ministry of the Interior] – put the thieves from CB in prison!”
This one-man protest was the latest in a series of attacks on the central bank following its forced closure of Yugra last July.
Over the summer, a deluge of stories – at one point, more than 1,000 a day – appeared in the more flexible parts of the Russian media. They accused the central bank of defrauding Yugra depositors.
Several D-list celebrities went on TV to say they had lost money as a result of the bank closure. A group claiming to be Yugra depositors staged a sit-in at the central bank.
All may not, however, be quite what it seems. Sources close to the central bank say none of the vocal celebs featured in the list are Yugra customers. Several of the protestors were apparently unaware of the name of the bank in which they are supposed to have lost their cash.
In fact, the number of depositors who suffered from Yugra’s closure was tiny.