You guys: We’re not sure if you realized this, but Vladimir Putin is pissed.
“Now everyone knows that financial reserves can simply be stolen,” Mr. Putin said. He called the freezing of Russia’s central-bank assets illegitimate and warned it would lead countries around the world to store their reserves in tangible assets such as gold, land and raw materials instead of financial assets.
The financial institution acts because the paying agent, charged with receiving and processing funds into bondholders’ accounts for the 2 dollar-denominated bonds issued by Russia. Russia’s Ministry of Finance stated Thursday that it had handed funds for servicing these bonds on to Citi’s London department. Bondholders had been owed $117 million by Wednesday.
Buyers who maintain the bonds stated they hadn’t obtained cost. One stated there was no information from Citigroup on Wednesday about whether or not the financial institution had obtained the funds from Russia and if they might be handed on to collectors.
If Russia’s creditors don’t get the cash in dollars within the 30-day grace period that starts on Thursday, it would be the first time the nation defaulted on foreign-currency bonds since the Bolsheviks repudiated the czar’s debts in 1918.
Putin also took time out of his latest grievance-airing and dissident-threatening to shower praise on those multinationals that have yet to pull out of Russia, without naming them. His Ukrainian counterpart, however, was not so reticent.
[Volodymyr Zelensky] named Nestlé SA, Mondelez International Inc. and Unilever PLC, among “other giants of the food industry,” as well as financial firms Raiffeisen Bank International AG of Austria and French lender Société Générale SA.
The Ukrainian president also mentioned South Korea’s Samsung Electronics Co. and LG Electronics Co., pharmaceutical companies Sanofi SA and Johnson & Johnson, along with chemicals giant BASF SE and Bayer AG, the agricultural and drugs supplier.
At least one name was omitted, although given its track record trammeling American democracy, we suppose it’s no surprise they’d have no issue about strangling the Ukrainian one.
"While Guardian's business in Russia is a very small part of Koch, we will not walk away from our employees there or hand over these manufacturing facilities to the Russian government so it can operate and benefit from them," Dave Robertson, president and COO of Koch Industries, said Wednesday in a statement posted by the company….
"Given how small Koch says its Russian operation is, hard not to see this as purely symbolic, sending the message that all of Koch's talk of rights and liberty means nothing. Making money is what they value," [author Jane] Mayer tweeted.
Koch assures, of course, that it is doing the bare minimum, which is to say obeying the law by observing the myriad sanctions imposed against Russia and its elite over the past few weeks. Oh, and if some pro-Ukrainian hackers should have a go at it, Koch may have a new phone call to make.
Congress passed the legislation, which is part of the Strengthening American Cybersecurity Act, after a monthslong lobbying push last year to narrow such bills…. Under the new law, companies that operate critical infrastructure—banks, electric utilities and other organizations key to daily life—will be required to share information with CISA about certain incidents within 72 hours. CISA will analyze and anonymize the data to distribute it throughout the federal government and private sector to help prevent similar attacks elsewhere. Covered organizations will also have to report ransomware payments to CISA within 24 hours of making them.
The Treasury Department… unveiled the launch of the Kleptocracy Asset Recovery Rewards Program, which offers rewards of up to $5 million for information that would lead to the government obtaining or repatriating stolen assets in the accounts of a U.S. financial institution…. FinCEN suggested that Russian elites may look to evade sanctions is through the purchase of commercial or luxury real estate, and said transactions made in the name of a foreign legal entity could be a red flag, particularly if the deal was far above the fair market value or in all cash.
FinCEN said that other high-value assets—such as artworks; luxury yachts and vehicles; and precious metals, stones or jewelry—could be used to evade sanctions, and advised looking out for all-cash deals or the use of shell companies in these areas.
Aides to Charles P. Rettig, the I.R.S. commissioner, told congressional staff on Wednesday afternoon that the agency’s criminal investigations unit, which has 3,000 employees, needs to grow about 40 percent over the next five years. It wants a net gain of about 1,300 after attrition. That could require Congress to invest more than $5 billion in the agency, which is trying to oversee a sprawling sanctions program and coping with evasion tactics that have become more sophisticated as a result of the proliferation of digital assets.
Officials from the Commerce Department, which is in charge of enforcing the U.S. rules, have already begun digging through shipping containers and detaining electronics, aircraft parts and other goods that are destined for Russia. On March 2, federal agents detained two speedboats at the Port of Charleston valued at $150,000 that were being exported to Russia, according to senior U.S. officials…. On March 3, Commerce Department officials spoke to a gathering of 300 businesspeople in Beijing about how to comply with the new restrictions….
The Commerce Department has 130 federal agents working in 30 cities in the United States to check for violators, as well as nine employees overseas. It expects to add personnel in Europe and Asia to carry out more expansive checks, officials said.
Which is not to say that Western regulators are entirely unmoved by the plight of their companies dealing with Russian exposure.
The Financial Conduct Authority said it is considering authorising UK retail funds to use so-called “side pockets” to segregate Russian and Belarusian assets./If the regulator goes ahead, side pockets will make it possible for fund managers to separate out Russian and Belarusian assets they cannot sell or value from their other investments, allowing investors to enter funds without gaining exposure to Russia.
Putin Acknowledges Impact of Sanctions on Russian Economy [WSJ]
Citigroup sits between Russia and a potential bond default [WSJ]
Russia’s Bond Payment Is in Limbo as Countdown to Default Begins [Bloomberg]
Ukraine’s Zelensky Urges Global Businesses to Exit Russia in Speech to Congress [WSJ]
Koch Industries stays in Russia, backs groups opposing U.S. sanctions [CBS News]
Fearing More Cyberattacks, Congress Requires Key Businesses to Report Digital Breaches [WSJ]
FinCEN Advises Banks on How to Look for Transactions by Sanctioned Russian Elites [WSJ]
Amid Invasion of Ukraine, I.R.S. Aims to Police Oligarch Sanctions [NYT]
U.S. Casts a Global Net to Stop Shipments to Russia [NYT]
FCA eyes measures to ease pain for investors in funds with Russian assets [FT]
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