In a bid to reduce the possibility of a global economic crisis, the US Treasury and State Departments have quietly asked several leading financial institutions to continue transacting with several Russian corporations, including state-owned gas company Gazprom and Urakali PJSC, a fertilizer production firm.
Among those asked to continue performing transactions were Citigroup and JPMorgan, provided that these Russian firms were partly exempted from current sanctions against the Russian economy.
The named US banks and several others were asked to continue providing several basic financial services to these Russian companies, specifically US dollar settlements, payment transfers, and trade finance offerings.
A Surprise for Congress
This request took members of Congress by surprise when they brought the CEOs of these banks in for questioning during a hearing conducted on September 21st of this year. Some leading financial institutions were questioned during the hearing due to their business dealings in Russia.
JP Morgan CEO Jamie Dimon bluntly told questioners that his bank was merely following the instructions of the US government as they gave the order to continue performing such transactions for Russian firms.
As of press time, none of the banks requested to continue offering services to Russian businesses have been available for comment. Neither the Treasury nor the State Department has made any statements regarding the issue, as well.
Not a Comprehensive Embargo
For their part, legal experts specializing in the imposition of economic sanctions and trade embargoes say that the US Congress needs a proper briefing regarding the situation. Consequently, Congress may also need to educate banks on which specific transactions may be performed sans censure.
Lawyer Nnedinma Ifudu Nweke, in particular, quickly reminded the media that the US government has yet to impose a comprehensive embargo against Russia. In this case, several businesses are still allowed to conduct transactions within the country.
However, the Ukrainian government condemned western banks that still welcome transactions with Russian companies. Their condemnation has led to the possibility of charging these financial entities with war crimes, along with key officials of the Russian government.
According to Oleg Ustenko, economic adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, Russia has committed war crimes against the Ukrainian people in their own country is blatantly obvious. In this case, anyone who offers funding to a nation of war criminals to perform their atrocities should also be held accountable for war crimes.
The Ukrainian government intends to pass relevant information regarding the involvement of US banks in terms of bankrolling Russian war efforts to the International Criminal Court.