Croatian Sberbank Clients Begin Withdrawing Cash Following Russia Sanctions

By 26 February 2022
Vladimir Putin
Vladimir Putin

February the 26th, 2022 - Croatian Sberbank clients have begun withdrawing cash from their accounts held with the well known Russian bank following sanctions placed on the country as a result of its unjustified invasion of Ukraine.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Ana Blaskovic writes, growing anxiety over sanctions against Russia and as such Russian banks, imposed by the West over the illegal invasion of Ukraine, sparked queues in front of Sberbank branches in the cities of Zagreb and Split on Friday as Croatian Sbernank clients waited to remove their money.

Fearing for their cash held in that bank, Croatian Sberbank clients began lining up to withdraw their money. The State Deposit Insurance Agency, under the auspices of the Ministry of Finance, convened an emergency press conference, telling people that their savings are safe regardless of the current tragic events in Ukraine and sanctions against Russia.

"I'd like to remind people about the deposit insurance system that has existed for more than 20 years now and that there's no reason to panic about deposits in any bank in that system, including those in Sberbank. Sberbank RH currently has slightly more than 69,952 clients, of which 69,858 clients are insured and protected,'' said the director of the Agency Marija Hrebac, noting that all deposits up to 100,000 euros are insured in case of a bank failure.

"Even if there were serious problems, theoretically, if all other systems failed, the Croatian deposit insurance system wouldn't fail and would certainly protect Croatia's financial stability. If the worst-case scenario occurs, we can pay off all Croatian Sberbank clients who have deposits of up to 100,000 held with Sberbank,'' said Hrebac, saying that there is approximately 3.8 billion kuna of insured savings in that Russian bank. She added that only about 80 clients are currently not protected, and they're primarily financial institutions.

"We have the funds at our disposal, if the worst-case scenario happens by chance, those who have saved with Sberbank will be able to access their funds, which they keep there," Hrebac emphasised. According to the Croatian National Bank (CNB/HNB), as of June the 30th, 2021, total deposits entrusted to Sberbank RH amounted to 9.5 billion kuna.

Sberbank itself previously said that they would continue to operate as usual. “Sberbank Croatia (RH) will be operating as usual, providing all products and services to all its clients. Sberbank Croatia is part of the Sberbank Europe Group - a European financial institution with a European banking license. We operate here on the local market, primarily at the service of Croatian Sberbank clients, under the regulation and supervision of the European Central Bank and the local Croatian National Bank,'' reads the statement on the website.

To briefly recall, back in November, the Russian Sberbank announced that it was withdrawing from the markets of Central and Eastern Europe. The bank's operations here in Croatia, Slovenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia and Hungary were sold to Miodrag Kostic's group, known and often referred to be regional media as the "Serbian sugar king". The sale was agreed between Sberbank Europe on the one hand, and Belgrade's AIK Bank, Gorenjska Bank from Kranj and AEC Ltd. on the other.

The value of the transaction is unofficially estimated at 500m euros, and its completion and formal completion is expected later this year, provided regulators give the green light for it.

"Sberbank Europe AG has decided to reduce its geographical presence in the CEE region in order to focus on key markets," said the then-largest Russian bank, which has been under sanctions since 2014 over the Russian annexation of Crimea.

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