Turkish banks targeted over Russian payment system – FT

Sep 16, 2022 | BUSINESS

Lenders will be under scrutiny to make sure sanctions are being enforced

The US and the EU intend to put pressure on Turkish banks so that Ankara does not help Moscow “bypass the sanctions,” the FT reported on Thursday, citing two Western officials familiar with the matter.

Turkish banks that have integrated into Russia’s Mir payments system will be in the spotlight of Western countries that are stepping up their efforts to watch over the enforcement of anti-Russian sanctions. Mir was developed by the Central Bank of Russia as a domestic alternative to Visa and Mastercard after the first round of sanctions was imposed on Moscow in 2014. According to the outlet, the EU plans to send a delegation to express concerns to Turkish officials directly.  

“We’ll send a message very clearly that, for example, third-country financial institutions should not be interconnecting with the Mir payment network because, you know, that carries some sanctions-evasion risks,” one of the unnamed Western officials told the FT. 

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US targets banks using Russian payment system

Earlier, some media outlets reported that the Russian payments system in Turkey was malfunctioning. However, the head of Russia’s National Payment Card System Vladimir Komlev told reporters on Thursday that Mir cards are functioning normally. 

“Nothing bad has happened in Turkey, the work is going in an absolutely normal mode. Mir cards are being accepted everywhere where they have previously been accepted,” he said.

Turkish banks adopted Mir payments network in early August, which allowed Russian tourists to pay for their purchases in the country. Currently, five major Turkish lenders use the Russian payments system – Turkiye Is Bankasi, Ziraat Bankasi, VakifBank, DenizBank and Halkbank. The FT quoted two of them as confirming that they do not conduct transactions with sanctioned Russian banks, fully complying with the imposed restrictions.

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