Ukraine puts Hungary’s OTP Bank on ‘international war sponsor’ list

By Dénes Albert
3 Min Read

Ukraine’s National Anti-Corruption Agency (NACA) has placed the Hungarian OTP Bank Group on its list of “international war sponsors” for continuing to cooperate with Russian entities, the agency’s press service said on Thursday.

The OTP Group also confirmed the fact of the classification to MTI, stressing that the OTP Group operates in compliance with all international sanctions, measures, and local laws in all its markets, including Russia.

In a press release, NACA justified its decision by saying that the Hungarian bank continues to operate in Russia and is acting under the provisions of a lending law to which the Russian authorities of Donetsk and Luhansk regions are subject to. According to NACA, OTP provides loans to members of the Russian army on “favorable terms,” including the possibility of deferring payments when repaying loans.

The statement said that the Ukrainian national bank had earlier demanded that OTP Group, which has a stake in Ukraine worth approximately $507 million, leave the Russian market.

The OTP Group operates in compliance with all international sanctions and local laws in all its markets, including Russia, the OTP Bank’s head of communications told Hungarian news agency MTI.

“The group’s bank in Russia has a 0.17 percent share in the Russian banking market, according to Russian market watchdog data, which has earned it a rating of a systemically non-significant market player from the Russian central bank,” he said.

Many Western banks and companies continue to operate in Russia with the Financial Times newspaper reporting in January of this year that Western banks are struggling to exit Russia.

“Almost a year into the invasion of Ukraine, only a handful of Western banks have managed to leave Russia, albeit at steep cost, while others have made the choice to hold on to their businesses in the country,” the FT wrote.

Ukraine and Hungary have long featured poor relations, dating back before the war. However, Hungary’s decision to not send weapons to Ukraine, and its promotion of a peace deal and ceasefire in Ukraine have angered Ukraine and a host of Western governments.

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