Bribe allegations leveled in court against a VTB Group executive may complicate the Russian state-owned bank’s attempts to recoup a $535 million loan that’s part of a major debt scandal in Mozambique, Bloomberg News reported. A New York court heard testimony last month that the VTB executive in charge of the deal, Makram Abboud, took $2 million in kickbacks. The bank denies the allegations, made by a former Credit Suisse Group AG banker at a criminal trial in which VTB isn’t a party, and its employee hasn’t been charged with any wrongdoing.
Sberbank and the International Bank of Azerbaijan (IBA) have settled a dispute over funds owed to Russia’s largest bank by IBA, an Azeri and Sberbank officials said on Wednesday, Reuters reported. In 2017, state-run IBA proposed a plan to restructure $3.3 billion of its debt and said in July it had received approval from creditors holding 93.9% of the debt involved. As part of the restructuring, which was under Azeri law, IBA obtained a moratorium from a London court preventing creditors from taking action against it without court permission.
The Russian central bank is set next year to slightly soften capital buffer requirements on banks that assess their own credit risk, deputy governor Vasily Pozdyshev told Reuters, in a bid to encourage more lenders to take up the practice, Reuters reported. The move comes as the Russian central bank presses for banks to conduct in-house risk assessments, saying it allows for better management of banks’ capital cushions and could cut the cost of borrowing.
The head of Russia’s state bank VTB Andrei Kostin and Mozambique President Filipe Nyusi discussed plans to restructure Maputo’s debt, with the aim to conclude a deal by the year-end. Mozambique needs to restructure a $535 million state-backed loan to Mozambique Asset Management (MAM) arranged by VTB, Reuters reported. The meeting between Kostin and Nyusi was held on Tuesday, a VTB spokeswoman told Reuters. VTB said in a statement on Wednesday that Kostin told Nyusi that the Russian bank would like to agree on the debt restructure plan by the end of this year.
Spain’s High Court will investigate allegations that Russian tycoon Mikhail Fridman acted to depress the share price of DIA when trying to take control of the supermarket chain, a court document seen by Reuters showed, Reuters reported. Fridman’s LetterOne fund denied the allegations on Tuesday, saying in a statement they were “untrue and defamatory”. LetterOne rescued DIA from the brink of insolvency this year after the retailer’s market value fell by 90% in 2018 as it lost out to rising competition.
Russian billionaire Mikhail Fridman is facing questioning in Spain over allegations he illegally laid “economic siege” to an acquisition target while camouflaging his true role, according to court documents seen by the Financial Times. An anti-corruption prosecutor suspects Mr Fridman broke the country’s criminal code in 2016 in an attempt to take control of Zed World Wide, a Spanish mobile content and services business that later declared insolvency, the Financial Times reported.
Russian President Vladimir Putin and Nicolas Maduro briefly discussed Caracas’ debt obligations to Russia last week during a visit to Moscow by the Venezuelan leader, the Kremlin said on Tuesday, without providing details, Reuters reported. Close ally Moscow has acted as a lender of last resort for Caracas, with the Russian government and oil giant Rosneft (ROSN.MM) providing at least $17 billion in loans and credit lines since 2006. In November 2017, Russia agreed to restructure Venezuela’s sovereign debt of $3.15 billion, with repayments over 10 years.
Three major Russian companies have tapped the Eurobond market this month and more are expected to join them, capitalising on lower borrowing costs as global central banks cut rates, Reuters reported. After the summer lull, Russian companies stepped up activity on the Eurobond market and raised $1.6 billion in Eurobonds in the first three weeks of September. Russia’s steelmaker Severstal, petrochemicals company Sibur, and pipe producer Chelpipe launched dollar-denominated Eurobonds. Eurobond issuance has been supported by a flurry of global central bank policy easings.
Russia’s largest lender Sberbank does not see itself as the future owner of the Antipinsky oil refinery, which filed for bankruptcy earlier this year, Sberbank deputy board chairman Anatoly Popov said on Wednesday, Reuters reported. The refinery, which has a capacity of 9 million tonnes per year, filed for bankruptcy in May after having halted operations on several occasions because of a lack of funds to pay for crude oil deliveries. Sberbank had been its main creditor.
When Ayuka Tserenov lost his job as a loan officer at the giant Kremlin-run lender Sberbank three years ago, he found himself staring at nearly Rbs3.5m ($52,760) in debt, the Financial Times reported. He had taken out a Rbs2.5m loan from his employer to buy an apartment in his southern hometown of Elista when he and his wife had their first child. Mr Tserenov’s Rbs40,000 monthly wage was not enough to cover the down payment, so he took out another Rbs250,000 from another bank, then went deeper into debt to cover further living expenses.