UAE Issues License to Russian Bank, Prompting Concerns About Abu Dhabi-Moscow Relations

22 days ago
UAE Issues License to Russian Bank, Prompting Concerns About Abu Dhabi-Moscow Relations

Russia’s MTS Bank has been granted a license to operate in the United Arab Emirates, as confirmed by the UAE central bank’s official website.

There are growing concerns that the Gulf state could potentially serve as a financial refuge for Russia, especially since several Western nations have implemented tough sanctions against Moscow in response to its invasion of Ukraine.

Did you know that MTS Bank is actually a subsidiary of Mobile TeleSystems, Russia’s largest mobile operator?

The UAE is home to tens of thousands of Russians, many of whom moved to the UAE following Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine in an attempt to escape being conscripted into the Russian army or circumvent Europe’s financial restrictions. 

Many have complained about the difficulty with opening new bank accounts, according to the Financial Times. MTS is the first foreign bank in many years to receive a license to operate in the UAE and could meet the rising demand for banking services for Russians in the country.

Abu Dhabi’s financial ties with Moscow have strengthened since the invasion, causing alarm in the United States and other western countries.  

The US Treasury undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence Brian Nelson raised concerns about the bank during a visit to the UAE last week, and “conveyed broad concerns about financial connectivity with Russia, even via non-sanctioned banks,” according to the FT. 

This comes as the UAE was placed on a list of countries being supervised by the Financial Action Task Force, an international anti-money laundering watchdog, last year.


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