Ukraine war: Citi bank to close Russian branches

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Citibank branch in RussiaImage source, Getty Images
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Customers queued outside Citibank Moscow after foreign sanctions on Russia were announced

US bank Citigroup is to close its remaining branches and consumer banking operations in Russia as it exits the country in protest at the war in Ukraine.

The move, which affects 2,300 staff in the country, follows an exodus of Western businesses over the conflict.

Citi, the US bank with the biggest presence in Russia, had said it planned to leave back in April.

But it has been trying unsuccessfully to find a buyer for its business.

A spokesperson told the BBC that while its local consumer business would close, Citi would continue to support multinational institutional clients in the country.

"Particularly those which are undergoing winding down their own operations in the country," they said.

The bank, which has 15 branches in Russia, expects the exit to cost it about $170m (£140m) over the next 18 months.

"We have explored multiple strategic options to sell these businesses over the past several months," Citi's chief executive Titi Cole said.

"It's clear that the wind-down path makes the most sense given the many complicating factors in the environment."

The bank said that as part of the withdrawal, which will begin in the coming months, it will continue to actively pursue sales of "certain Russian consumer banking portfolios" to reduce its exposure to Russia.

At end of June, Citi's remaining exposure to Russia stood at $8.4bn (£7.1bn).

The bank announced in April 2021 that it would close many of its retail branches, but expanded the plans to include the withdrawal of all commercial banking operations after the Ukraine war began.

It joins countless other businesses in exiting Russia, either for moral reasons or because Western sanctions have made it impossible to operate there.

Starbucks, Amazon, McDonald's and Apple are some of the names to have left.

In February, the US banned American people and businesses from transacting with Russia's central bank, finance ministry and wealth fund.

Russia's central bank said the move would affect customers' deposit accounts, investments, loans and credit and debit cards.