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

Oman signs LNG supply pact with Turkey’s Botas

State-backed Oman LNG has signed an agreement with Turkey’s Botas Petroleum Pipeline Corporation to supply one million metric tonnes per annum (mtpa) of liquefied natural gas (LNG) for 10 years. The agreement will commence in 2025, the state-run Oman News Agency reported. Hamed Mohammed Al Nu’amani, CEO of Oman LNG, said the agreement with Botas […]

Flooding in Dubai affected many people's homes. Emaar has promised .free repairs for its residents, and an upgraded sewerage system is planned

Emaar promises free repairs as Dubai launches sewerage system

Emaar Properties is offering free repairs to residents whose homes were damaged during this week’s extreme flooding, as Dubai also announced an AED80 billion ($22 billion) sewerage system. The developer announced on Friday that it would repair all homes in its communities affected by the historic levels of rain, “at no cost to residents”. Emaar’s […]

Construction work in Kuwait. Nurseries, schools and shops are being built for the new residential district of Al Metlaa

Kuwait signs $140m contracts for Al Metlaa development

Kuwait’s Public Authority for Housing Welfare (PAHW) has signed two contracts worth KD42 million ($140 million) to construct public buildings in Al Metlaa, a new residential district north of Kuwait City. Nurseries, stores, schools and shops will be included, state news agency Kuna reported. Electricity connections have been provided for 109 buildings in the district, […]

Iraq gas oil

Iraq to auction 30 oil and gas projects this month

Iraq will auction 30 new oil and gas projects in two licensing rounds before the end of April. The bidding round will be held on April 27, Reuters reported, citing an oil ministry statement. Last October Iraq passed a long-awaited oil and gas law, which will help the country attract more international investments into the hydrocarbon industry and boost government revenues.  Ali Metwally, an […]