Payment for friendship: how Rotenberg's bank is surviving the sanctions

US sanctions seriously hampered the business of SMP Bank. State support and tactical maneuvres help to overcome the difficult period.
Origin source
Twentieth March 2014 US Treasury Department imposed sanctions on Russian businessmen Arkady and Boris Rotenberg, what struck business belonging to them SMP Bank a month under sanctions fallen and the bank itself. Last year was the bank Rotenberg brothers more saturated than the previous 14 years of existence, the profit increased by 60% to 3 billion rubles. Who helps SMP Bank under sanctions?

Switch passed out

On the morning of March 20 SMP Bank employees noticed that the bank stopped coming requests for transactions with plastic cards, and decided that there was a technical failure. A couple of hours could be no doubt: equipment and software at anything - the international payment systems Visa and MasterCard cut off payments from the bank. At that time, the bank issued 170 000 cards, he immediately began to send SMS holders with information about the problems. The cards were employees Rotenberg brothers companies, such as "Stroygazmontazh". The call center of the bank switched to clock mode, many cardholders are abroad, and managers of the bank phoned, for example, hotels and guaranteeswhether payment, otherwise customers can be on the street, says a former employee of SMP Bank.

It soon became clear that the international payment systems hurry, turning off the bank from the settlement, because the sanctions against the owners under the rules of the US Treasury did not apply to the bank itself, as the brothers owned by 38.05%, and none of them did not own a controlling stake. The then Chairman of the Board Dmitry Kalantyrsky initially reacted to the sanctions with humor. "My colleagues and I have discussed how the sanctions could affect the operation of the organization, and decided that the bank will not be affected. But just in case the shareholders have decided to not shake hands, "- he sneers. Just two days SMP Bank has made unlock cards, but by then it was no laughing matter - the situation became uncontrollable.

The depositors besieged the offices and withdraw money from ATMs at more than 50 million rubles per hour, which is 10 times higher than normal load. For timely delivery of cash management of the Bank has agreed with the Bank of Russia. Two days of SMP Bank clients, physical persons and legal entities, removed from the accounts of nearly 9 billionrubles.

The bank collapsed largely due to the significant funds that were kept on the enterprise Rotenberg accounts.

According to the annual report of SMP Bank on December 31, 2013 a group of related counterparties accounted for more than 10% of cash balances, 7.9 billion rubles.

A month later, with a small, on April 28 in the US Treasury Sanctions list was, and the bank itself. Now to escape depositors added software problems. On the same day no longer be updated Symantec antivirus program of the American company. Soon, with the bank ceased to cooperate Microsoft, HP, Red Hat, Oracle, and "many other IT-companies," says an employee of SMP Bank, so the bank had to transfer part of IT-solutions for outsourcing.

Treasury and traders were unable to perform the usual operations through Bloomberg and Reuters. The bank was gone in an instant access to counterparties on the interbank market, including the Bank of Russia. The situation back in the 1980s, and modern means of communication, according to one of the traders, began to replace the phone. On that day, state-owned banks have set deals with SMEs in the standby mode.

It quickly became clear that the bank no longer have access to the London Stock Exchange and the Chicago Board of Trade, frozen dollar account in the US JPMorgan Chase, have refused to cooperate Bank of America and American broker FXCM. Contact the owner of the bank hedge fund Owental Stock Investments with assets of approximately $ 100 million (according to the register, the owner of the fund - a former employee of SMP Bank Denis Pospelov) was not able to carry out transactions with derivatives in Chicago. Difficult and deals with bonds - the largest settlement depository for Euroclear and Clearstream confirmed of Forbes, which comply with the sanctions regime, but comment on the situation with the Bank of SMP declined. However, the bank sold its entire portfolio of Eurobonds, although it has used these securities in repo transactions with the Bank of Russia, Credit Suisse and Sberbank.

Latvian experience

The banking business Rotenberg has fallen under US sanctions. In late 2006, SMP Bank bought a Latvian bank Multibanka, formed on the basis of Vnesheconombank department. Spicy detail: owned by local businessman Vladimir Solomatin Bank at the time the transaction was under US sanctions.

The US Treasury included itthe black list, accused of financial fraud, laundering of criminal money and encouraged American banks to stop operations with it.

Claims to have Multibanka and the Commission on the US Securities and Exchange (SEC) - allegedly used his account in the United States to build a financial pyramid.

Why SMP Bank bought the bank? According to a source close to the bank, a key role was played by the low price, because Multibanka breathed its last and was very close to the revocation of the license. A year later, the bank closed the accounts of more than 5,000 questionable. US Treasury lifted sanctions. The bank was renamed the SMP and has opened offices in the Baltic States and Ukraine. SMP customers of "Gazprom" soon became, and 18 000 Russian military pensioners who receive pensions in Latvia and Lithuania.

Following the introduction of sanctions against the SMP Bank subsidiary bank had to sell. Now it is called the Meridian Trade Bank (MTB) and belongs to the owner of the stevedoring company Strek Mikhail Ganev and predpravleniya Bank Svetlana Zen. According to a source in the Defense Ministry, the former Russian military receive pensions from other banks. In "Gazprom" declined to comment. The MTB stated that the project with MinoOron continues.

Reliance on the system

From working with SMP Bank will be forced to give up not only the payment systems Visa and MasterCard, but also their authorized partners. Company "Rosan FINANCE", "NovaCard" and even state FSUE "Goznak" will not be able to print new cards for SMP Bank. Commercial Director of "Rosan FINANCE" Ilia Merkulov explains that the logo of VISA and MasterCard need to agree with these companies, and they do not approve the issuance of cards for banks under sanctions.

SMP Bank is not issuing bankcards within the project for the fans at the "Dinamo" stadium.

The Bank had to abandon the issue of co-branded cards, closed a joint project with BalticMiles (PINS). There are problems with ATMs and software for them, because they are mostly foreign companies produce NCR, Diebold, Wincor. Also, with the bank's website is missing information on cooperation with money transfer system Western Union and Russia "Golden Crown".

How to get out of this situation? SMP Bank was urgently needed a partner with a wide network of ATMs and acquiring points. greatsuccess was the agreement with the "Uralsib", which allowed him to use the SMP Bank ATM network and calmed most of the remaining customers. According to a source in the "Uralsib", an agreement was reached at the level of Dmitry Kalantyrsky and chairman of "Uralsib" Ilkka Salonen. The "Uralsib" declined to comment. Later SMP Bank has signed a similar agreement with Rosselkhozbank.

The problem with ATMs SMP Bank decided quickly, but most of the outlets it does not accept the card. Some banks that have significant infrastructure for acquiring, refused to work with SMP. Among them, "Discovery", "Trust" and Credit Europe Bank, said a source in the bank Rothenberg. The "Credit Europe" reported that such treatment is not officially reported.

SMEs and other banks fell under the sanctions, to help the law, which introduces a monopoly of the National Payment Card System (NBTS) in Russia. The system should work in 2015, after which all banks and payment systems will be required to communicate through the NBTS. "This CollMr. appeared thanks to the fact that banks refuse to connect SMP Bank and bank "Russia" to its acquiring network - says a source in the State Duma. - On the issue of sanctions we were told in the bank. " NBTS need to some banks could not apply discriminatory measures against other, said Deputy Finance Minister Alexei Moiseev. "Maps of all banks will be accepted at all points in Russia, where there are card readers", - he says.

Operation "Dollars"

Unlike the bank "Russia" Yuri Kovalchuk 132, also fell under the sanctions, SMP Bank has not refused from operations in dollars. First, he had a lot of retail customers, and secondly, at the time of the imposition of sanctions billionaire Suleiman Kerimov, 31, gave the bank a subordinated loan of $ 100 million at 6% per annum.

A source close to Kerimov said that there is a personal account in the bank Kerimov, but its service is limited rubles.

Initially, the SMP Bank has problems with the purchase of currency, its proven counterparties refused to conduct banknote operations,about over time the situation has changed.

"SMP Bank continues to work with currency, but in other banks. Nothing prevents the clearing bank to transfer the ruble and get cash currency ", - says the treasurer of a bank.

According to another treasurer, SMP Bank made the acquisition currency through third companies. According to the official statements of SMP Bank, as of 1 January 2014 in the cash box office was 2.39 billion rubles and the currency equivalent 1.28 billion rubles, and on January 1, 2015 cash rubles was smaller - 1.97 billion and currency much more - to 3 billion rubles.

On cashless settlements more difficult: SMP Bank can not guarantee to customers of payments in foreign currency, primarily in US dollars, because of its correspondent account in the largest settlement bank for this currency JPMorgan Chase frozen. A member of the SMP Bank argues that the problem was quickly resolved, but did not specify how. The treasurer of a major bank said that the SMP Bank can use to calculate the three banks, which he is now sanitizes - Mosoblbank, Inresbank Finance and Business Bank. None of them on the sanctions listmissed.

SMP Bank officially disclosed the information that conducted transactions in dollars (related party transactions) through Mosoblbank, which is also traded Eurobonds.

Once at SMP Bank have a problem with payments and in Russia. According to a source in the SME Bank, a Russian bank with foreign capital without explanation frozen ruble payment of SMP Bank. The bank said that now is no such problem.

"The employees of US banks in the summer was a statement, according to which not only can they not send letters or analytical reports on the sanctions the banks, but they are not even recommended to stay close to our offices," - says the source.

According to investment banker from of UBS, these inherent limitations - the usual case, in particular, before the imposition of sanctions in the bank introduced a ban on any communication with persons in Mezhprombank and the bank "Russia".

Sanitation to help

In the spring of 2014, Russian energy companies with state participation were recommended to use for payments the bank "Russia" and SMP BNK says a source in the energy market. Thus, clients of SMP Bank became "RusHydro", "Rossetti" and its subsidiaries. In addition, SMP Bank increased its portfolio of loans to regional ministries in 2014, according to SPARK, the bank has won 400 tenders worth about 12.5 billion rubles (for comparison: the 292 was a tender for 4.5 billion rubles in 2013). To participate in such a competition, banks need to have the ratings of international agencies, in SMP Bank has no rating - Moody's Investors Service has withdrawn it from the sanctions. This problem is easily solved with the help of the state again. "We have excluded the foreign ratings of the regulations for the evaluation of credit institutions with the placement of funds of state corporations, non-budgetary funds and state-owned companies, and to the Pension Fund and the Federal Treasury we use dosanktsionnye ratings, which were the first group of companies that have fallen under the sanctions. Similarly, we received and with the Central Bank ", - the deputy minister of Moses says. In 2014, the credit portfolio of the bank's state-owned companies increased by 20 billion rubles (60%).

How else can the state helps SMP Bank? Bank became the sanatorium GRUPy banks owned by Alexander and Andrzej Malczewski - MOSOBLBANK, Inresbanka and Finance Bank business - and received from the state 117 billion rubles under 0.51% per annum for 10 years. Most received only VTB to reorganize the Bank of Moscow. Advisor to the Chairman of the Board of Directors of SMP Bank Anton Treushnikov not consider sanitation gift.

"We took the bank under reorganization with one lump sum, and the hole was quite different," - he says.

The new management MOSOBLBANK provide details of the financial analysis in a letter to the Deputy Minister of Interior Alexander Savenkov, according to the sanatorium, the bank's own funds are negative (-103 000 000 000 rubles), found off-balance sheet deposits by 76 billion rubles. The analysis in SMEs, showed that further reorganization MOSOBLBANK need 71 billion rubles.

Treushnikov said that the money from deposits MOSOBLBANK Malczewski taken out in the company RFK and use them at their discretion, for example, built equestrian sports facilities, goose park in the Astrakhan region, engaged in charity. Doubtful loan portfolio and was 23 companies linkeds with ROS, owe the bank 64 billion rubles. Treushnikov believes that another 71 borrowers with loan debt 31.6 billion rubles has been linked with the former owners of the bank. While under investigation only former predpravleniya MOSOBLBANK Viktor Yanin, and Malczewski were witnesses.

Rehabilitation effect on the balance of forces and personnel policy of SMP Bank. According to a source at the bank, Arkady Rotenberg was dissatisfied with the course of rehabilitation. In February 2015 it became known that Dmitry Kalantyrsky sold its 11.2% controlling shareholders, instead chairman was Alexander Levkovsky. The Board of Directors headed by Artem Obolensky, that he is now in charge of the bank in front of Rothenberg. Kalantyrsky is left on the board, and Arkady Rotenberg left him. Kalantyrsky reshuffle does not comment.

According to Rotenberg friend, he decided to focus on the construction of a bridge across the Kerch Strait. "Arkady Romanovich responsible attitude towards the project and assumed personal liability. I believe that he made man's act, took the obvious risks, and may the wholelife remain under sanctions ", - says the familiar Rothenberg.

"The subordinated loan has remained, and it is served. The bank has no problems with liquidity and capital. But because of the sanctions, there are certain problems with the currency ", - said a source close to Kerimov.