UAE considering options on Russian bank MTS hit by new sanctions over Ukraine war

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The United Arab Emirates was studying “available options” Friday after a Russian bank given a license to operate in the Gulf state was hit by a new wave of US sanctions.

MTS Bank, approved for its license last year, was one of more than 200 entities and individuals targeted by the fresh sanctions on the first anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

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“The Central Bank is studying now the available options regarding the new status of the bank and appropriate decision will be taken in due course, considering the obligations incurred by the branch during the previous period,” said a statement carried by the official WAM News Agency.

The Central Bank said MTS earned its license because it “fulfilled the criteria for licensing branches of foreign banks” and that it “contributed to supporting legitimate trade between the two countries and servicing the Russian community in the UAE.”

The UAE, particularly its financial hub Dubai, has attracted large numbers of Russian professionals and businesspeople fleeing the impact of Western sanctions.

Russian air passenger traffic to Dubai more than doubled last year to 1.9 million, Dubai Airports CEO Paul Griffiths told AFP this week. The UAE has maintained a neutral stance towards Russia’s war.

The latest US measures were announced three weeks after the top US sanctions official, Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Brian E. Nelson, visited for talks with UAE authorities including the Central Bank.

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