House panel wants deeper details of banks’ business activities in Russia
- House Financial Services Committee Chair Maxine Waters, D-CA, asked U.S.-based banks and other firms to give the panel detailed information regarding the steps they have taken to cease their business activities with Russia, in a letter sent to trade organizations Thursday.
- The letter was sent to 31 organizations, including the American Bankers Association, American Fintech Council, Bank Policy Institute, Blockchain Association, Financial Services Forum, Institute of International Bankers and U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
- Waters requested that the organizations survey their member businesses within five days of receiving the letter, and deliver information about their business dealings with Russia to the committee within 20 days.
Waters pointed to the joint address Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy made to Congress this month, calling on American businesses to pull out of business dealings with Russia “because Russian markets are flooded with [Ukrainian] blood.”
So far, the House Financial Services Committee has passed five bills to support the economic penalties the U.S. has handed Russia. Four have had bipartisan support.
“Even though multiple companies have voluntarily divested from Russia, the Committee currently lacks a clear picture of the extent of these divestments,” Waters said in Thursday’s letter, intended to gauge how firms are complying with U.S. sanctions against the country and the businesses based therein.
Waters said the panel is seeking to understand what actions American businesses have undertaken to exit or phase out business activities with Russia since the country’s Feb. 24 invasion of Ukraine. Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase, Citi and BNY Mellon are among U.S. banks that have committed to closing operations in Russia, halting new business or otherwise pulling back on their ties to the country.
The committee is also interested in learning which companies remain engaged with Russia and businesses based in the country, and what steps these companies will take to wind down such ties or the reasons why they plan to continue business activities.
The letter requests that trade organizations survey their members within five days, ask their members to provide specific answers within 10, collate the responses and send them to the committee within 20 days.
The letter also instructs the trade groups to “keep a log of your members that have received the letter and those who have replied, and provide the Committee this log, without anonymizing the identities of the firms.”
Banks that chose to ignore the letter could receive a summons to Capitol Hill, American Banker predicted.