Rus­sian bank faces probe over French far-right party loan

The Pak Banker - - FRONT PAGE -

The Rus­sian cen­tral bank said it had placed un­der su­per­vi­sion a trou­bled bank that made a multi-mil­lion-euro loan to France's far-right Na­tional Front (FN) party in 2014. The First Czech Rus­sian Bank (FCRB) must "present pro­pos­als on the con­di­tions to pur­sue its ac­tiv­i­ties as a bank," the cen­tral bank said in a state­ment. Su­per­vi­sion by the cen­tral bank means the reg­u­la­tor puts tight con­trols on man­age­ment's ac­tions and keeps a close eye on its books. FCRB had al­ready in­tro­duced re­stric­tions on its clients' bank­ing ac­tiv­i­ties, Rus­sian me­dia re­ported. The bank made head­lines in Novem­ber 2014 af­ter the Na­tional Front ac­knowl­edged it had re­ceived a nine-mil­lioneuro loan ($11 mil­lion) from FCRB, but de­nied re­ports that the loan was ac­tu­ally to the tune of 40 mil­lion euros. FN leader Marine Le Pen ex­plained at the time she had been forced to turn to the Rus­sian bank be­cause French fi­nan­cial in­sti­tu­tions had re­fused to lend her party money.

Le Pen has praised Rus­sian Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin and cul­ti­vated a re­la­tion­ship with ma­jor­ity party United Rus­sia, whose se­nior mem­bers par­tic­i­pated in an FN congress in 2014. Re­ports say she is ex­pected to turn to Rus­sian banks again to help finance her 2017 pres­i­den­tial elec­tion cam­paign. Un­able to bor­row on West­ern mar­kets due to US and EU sanc­tions over Moscow's role in the Ukraine cri­sis, Rus­sian banks have found them­selves un­der sig­nif­i­cant pres­sure.

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