by Angeline Tan, The New American:
On September 8, Reuters news agency reported that Russia’s major agricultural lender, Rosselkhozbank, might obtain access to the SWIFT international banking system as early as this month, according to a UN letter dating back to late August. The news agency elaborated that the move was to prompt Moscow to return to the Black Sea grain deal suspended in July this year.
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Rosselkhozbank would be able to conduct international banking transactions through its subsidiary in Luxembourg, which would function as an intermediary between the Russian lender and foreign banks, Reuters said, quoting a letter from UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov dated August 28.
The Luxembourg subsidiary, RSHB Capital SA, might ask SWIFT to “effectively enable access” for the bank to its system “immediately,” Guterres supposedly told Lavrov.
“SWIFT has confirmed that RSHB Capital SA would be eligible to apply for membership and access to SWIFT for food and fertilizer transactions, based on its current status as an issuer of debt securities,” the secretary-general stated. “SWIFT has already confirmed that an expedited application process could be possible, bringing the time for effective access within 30 days.”
The Belgium-based financial cooperative society has not published any official statements on the matter thus far.
The UN letter from Guterres reportedly contained other topics, such as a UN co-sponsored insurance facility for Russian food and fertilizer exports. The facility, set up together with the Lloyd’s of London insurance company, could be “ready for operationalization within four to six weeks,” the UN head declared.
Lloyd’s CEO John Neal revealed to Reuters that his company was in discussions with the UN over offering insurance for Ukrainian grain shipments as part of the grain deal.
Although the international organization also pledged to continue attempts to unfreeze Russian assets in the EU related to agriculture and fertilizer trade, it added that Russian companies would still have to request for sanctions exemptions from EU member states individually.
Moscow had previously voiced doubts over the UN proposals, slamming them as yet another series of empty promises and pointing out that no similar measures had been implemented before, based on a statement by the Russian Foreign Ministry.
“Instead of actual exemptions from sanctions, all Russia got was a new dose of promises from the UN Secretariat,” a ministry statement posited. “These recent proposals do not contain any new elements and cannot serve as a foundation for making any tangible progress in terms of bringing our agricultural exports back to normal.”