Skip to content Skip to Search
Skip navigation

UAE reviewing status of Russian bank MTS

The UAE granted a licence to Russia's MTS Bank only weeks ago Creative Commons/Epifantsev
The UAE granted a licence to Russia's MTS Bank only weeks ago

The central bank of the United Arab Emirates (CBUAE) has said it is assessing the status of MTS, a Russian bank to which it gave a licence only weeks previously.

Marking the first anniversary of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the US Treasury and the British foreign office said that they were sanctioning MTS Bank, a subsidiary of Mobile TeleSystems, Russia’s largest mobile telephone operator. 

In a statement, the UK specifically identified MTS as being among four Russian banks along with 90 other Russian companies that it was adding to existing sanctions. The UAE granted a licence to MTS in early February.

The UAE central bank subsequently said on Friday that it was “studying the available options regarding the status of the new bank, and will take the appropriate decision in this regard at the time, taking into account the obligations incurred by the branch during the previous period.”

The UAE has insisted that it has licensed MTS to deliver services to the many thousands of Russian nationals and businesses who have come to the UAE following the Ukraine invasion.

The Financial Action Task Force (FATF), an international watchdog based in Paris, said that it was keeping the UAE on a so called grey list which requires financial institutions around the world to maintain higher due diligence on transactions emanating from the emirate and individuals resident in it.

FATF placed the UAE on the grey list in March last year. The federation has taken significant steps to counter accusations that it provides a safe haven for dirty money and questionable individuals from around the world. 

However, Brian Nelson, US Treasury under-secretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, raised the issue of the Russian bank’s licence on a visit to Abu Dhabi at the end of January and early this month.

The UAE has tried to maintain a neutral stance following the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Essa Kazim, governor of Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC), said it had seen little interest from Russian financial firms.

“There is no interest of Russian companies to come here – I have not seen any,” he said.

“In order for a Russian company to be licensed here, our regulator has to feel comfortable with their counterpart in Russia and that usually happens through signing memorandums of understanding to be able to share mutual information.

“That has not happened. And I don’t see that happening in the near future because the prerequisites are not still there.”

DIFC chief business development officer Salmaan Jaffery added: “There are no regulated Russian entities in the DIFC.

“Even before the current crisis, we’ve had no basis for working or accepting applications from the Russian central banks and they are below our risk appetite.”

Latest articles

Boat, Transportation, Vehicle

Bahri withdraws bid for Danish logistics company

Saudi shipping giant Bahri has withdrawn from the race to acquire Deutsche Bahn’s logistics unit Schenke, according to a news report. The CVC-led consortium, including Abu Dhabi Investment Authority (ADIA) and GIC, and DSV, a Danish logistics group, are the only two contenders left, Reuters reported, citing unnamed sources. Bahri’s offer was the highest at […]

Over the first half of the year Sanad Group signed deals with international airlines including Asiana Airlines and Deucalion Aviation

Mubadala-backed Sanad Group reports 53% revenue growth

Sanad Group, the Abu Dhabi-based global aerospace engineering and leasing company, has seen revenues increase by more than half over the first six months of the year. Figures released to AGBI show revenue totalling AED2.3 billion ($620 million) was reported in the first half of the year, up from AED1.5 billion over the same period […]

Malaysia’s HSS Engineers Berhad and its emirati consultancy HSS signed the deal top oversee construction with the Baghdad municipality

UAE company in joint venture to build Baghdad metro

A Malaysian engineering company and its UAE affiliate have jointly won a $316 million contract to oversee the construction of the new Baghdad metro. The building of the planned 148-kilometre network and its 64 stations across the Iraqi capital was slated to begin this month and end in 2029. This timeline might be delayed, however, […]