Deutsche Bank, BNP Paribas cease cooperation with Belarus

Deutsche Bank and BNP Paribas have decided not to conduct any further deals with the Belarusian government following a campaign by human rights groups...

 

Deutsche Bank and BNP Paribas have decided not to conduct any further deals with the Belarusian government following a campaign by human rights groups, reported The Independent, BelaPAN said.

The German and French banks, two of Europe`s largest financial institutions, were part of a syndicate alongside the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) and Russia`s Sberbank, which issued more than $800 million in the Belarusian government’s Eurobonds earlier this year.

In late August, RBS announced that it would no longer do any business with the country’s authorities over human rights issues.

Activists of Free Belarus Now and Index on Censorship met with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Warsaw this month to express their concern about the German bank`s cooperation with Minsk, according to the Independent. Iryna Bahdanova, sister of imprisoned former presidential candidate Andrey Sannikaw, said that Ms. Merkel had promised to raise the issue with Deutsche Bank`s executives.

When reached by BelaPaN Wednesday, Christoph Blumenthal, spokesman for Deutsche Bank, said that the bank was not involved in any business with Minsk and had no plans to be involved, refusing to comment on the reasons.

A BNP Paribas spokesperson confirmed to The Independent on Tuesday that the bank had pulled out of any future deals with Minsk. "After December 19 [the presidential elections] we stopped all our activities in Belarus, except trade related financing," she said.

"Our only action was to close the transactions which we had committed to before 19th December,” the spokesperson noted. “The bond issuance took place one week after this date for that reason. To date, we are not working on and do not plan any new transactions with the state of Belarus."

Mike Harris, head of advocacy at Index on Censorship, which has led the campaign to shame foreign investors in Belarus, said: "Deutsche Bank, RBS and BNP Paribas were propping up a dictatorship. We`re delighted they have pulled out, leaving Lukashenka with few options other than to release his political prisoners."

"Of the original four banks, only Sberbank has yet to say it will not do business with Lukashenka. We will keep campaigning until it does," he said.