October 22, 2018 / 10:54 AM / 2 months ago

Russian oligarch under U.S. sanctions files suit against Nordic banks

HELSINKI (Reuters) - A Russian businessman under U.S. sanctions over the Ukraine conflict due to his close ties with President Vladimir Putin has filed suit against four Nordic banks, accusing them of discrimination, a court said on Monday.

FILE PHOTO: The Nordea Bank AB logo is seen at the SIBOS banking and financial conference in Toronto, Ontario, Canada October 19, 2017. REUTERS/Chris Helgren/File Photo

The lawsuit presented by Boris Rotenberg accuses Nordea, Danske Bank, Handelsbanken and OP Bank of refusing to let him make payments and of violating his right to equal treatment as an EU citizen.

Rotenberg also holds a Finnish passport and is not subject to European sanctions over Russia’s role in Ukraine, but European banks must comply with the U.S. sanctions in order to do business with American banks.

“A systematic choice was made in drafting the EU sanctions lists that no EU citizens would be included in the lists, even if they had been flagged by the U.S. presidential administration on their (...) list,” Rotenberg wrote in the complaint, which was filed at Helsinki district court on Oct. 4.

Rotenberg asked the court to oblige Handelsbanken to accept money transfers for 210,000 euros (about $240,000) that he has made to his own account at the bank.

He also sought an order forcing Nordea, Danske Bank and OP Bank to let him make payment transactions, demanding 10,000 euros in damages from Handelsbanken and 20,000 euros each from Nordea, Danske Bank and OP Bank.

The banks declined to comment beyond confirming the lawsuit. A spokeswoman for Rotenberg declined to comment.

“Danske Bank is aware of Mr Rotenberg’s claims but cannot comment on this individual ongoing matter due to corporate policy,” a Danske spokesman said in an email.

He added that Danske — which has recently been hit by a money-laundering scandal at its Estonian branch — “takes money-laundering prevention and sanctions very seriously and has made significant efforts to ensure that all regulations are complied with.”

($1 = 0.8695 euros)

Reporting by Anne Kauranen and Jussi Rosendahl in Helsinki, additional reporting by Gleb Stolyarov in Moscow; Editing by Helen Popper

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