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Russia's crimes against banking

The state has done a lot of damage.


In most assessments of the wrongdoings of the current Russian government, crimes against banking would be fairly far down the page.

Nevertheless, the determination of president Vladimir Putin's people to treat Russia's biggest banks as their political playthings is worthy of mention. Not only has it already done considerable damage to the sector, it is potentially sowing the seeds of worse to come.

This might seem a harsh judgement. After all, it was Putin who installed Elvira Nabiullina at the central bank in 2013 with a mandate to clean up the banking sector, a task she and her team have pursued with enthusiasm. In five years, more than a third of Russia's 900 or so banks have been closed.

Yet equally it was Russia's rulers who sponsored the reckless expansion of three of the country's biggest private-sector banks after 2014. Otkritie, B&N Bank and Promsvyazbank (PSB) were given lavish funding to take over troubled lenders, as well as tacit permission to embark on debt-fuelled shopping sprees. 

Picking up the pieces

When it all came crashing down last year, the state had to step in again to pick up the pieces.

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