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Deutsche Bank Bows To Pressure And Says Will Wind Down Operations In Russia

Deutsche Bank Bows To Pressure And Says Will Wind Down Operations In Russia
Deutsche Bank, which has been chastised by some investors and lawmakers for its continued links to Russia, announced on Friday that it will be winding down its operations in the nation. This is a u-turn for the bank which had announced a few days ago that it would continue to offer some of its services to customers in Russia.  
Following Moscow's invasion of Ukraine, Deutsche Bank joins Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan Chase as the first big U.S. banks to get out. Rivals are under pressure to follow suit as a result of these initiatives.
Deutsche Bank had rejected calls to cut relations, claiming that it needed to help global companies doing business in Russia.
However, on Friday evening in Frankfurt, the bank abruptly changed its mind.
"We are in the process of winding down our remaining business in Russia while we help our non-Russian multinational clients in reducing their operations," the bank said.
"There won't be any new business in Russia," Deutsche said.
Deutsche Bank's Chief Executive Christian Sewing had addressed to employees the day before why the bank was not withdrawing.
"The answer is that this would go against our values," he wrote. "We have clients who cannot exit Russia overnight."
Bill Browder, an investor who has spent years fighting corruption in Russia, said Deutsche Bank's decision was "totally at odds with the international business community" and would result in "backlash, lost reputation, and business in the West."
"I would be surprised if they are able to maintain this position as the situation in Ukraine continues to deteriorate," Browder told Reuters earlier on Friday.
The condemnation came as Russian soldiers advancing on Kyiv regrouped northwest of the Ukrainian capital, prompting Britain to speculate that Moscow may be contemplating an attack on the city in the coming days.
Former Bundestag member and noted anti-financial crime advocate Fabio De Masi stated Deutsche Bank had tight contacts to the Russian elite, many of whom were sanctioned, and that the relationship, which entailed unlawful Russian activities, had to cease.
In recent years, Deutsche Bank has reduced its presence in Russia, according to the bank. It revealed 2.9 billion euros in credit risk to the government this week, claiming "extremely modest" exposure.
It also has a technological centre in Russia with around 1,500 personnel, and in December it launched a new main office in Moscow, which it described as "a substantial investment and commitment to the Russian market."
In the past, Russia has gotten Deutsche Bank into trouble.
The US Department of Justice has been investigating it for years for deals that officials claim were used to launder $10 billion out of Russia, resulting in a punishment of roughly $700 million for the German bank.
The DOJ investigation "is understood to be ongoing," Deutsche Bank stated on Friday.
In its annual report, Deutsche Bank revealed that it paid Sewing 8.8 million euros ($9.68 million) in 2021, a 20 per cent rise from the previous year.
Overall, the institution paid 14 per cent more in bonuses in 2021, totaling 2.1 billion euros, rewarding employees for the bank's most successful year in a decade.

Christopher J. Mitchell

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