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    SODBIZNESBANK LICENCE CANCELLED FOR MONEY LAUNDERING

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    MOSCOW, May 13 (RIA Novosti) - The Central Bank has cancelled Sodbiznesbank's licence for violating the law on money laundering, First Deputy Chairman of the Central Bank Andrei Kozlov said at a press conference on Thursday.

    In his words, on May 12 the bank supervision committee of the Central Bank unanimously decided to cancel the licence for banking operations of the Commercial Bank for Assistance to Entrepreneurship (OOO KB Sodbiznesbank).

    "The licence was cancelled in accordance with Articles 6 and 7 of the federal law On Money Laundering and Terrorism Financing," said Kozlov.

    In his words, the bank has not preserved the information and documents on its operations in 2002, which are supposed to be preserved for at least five years, according to the law.

    Besides, in 2003 the bank sent no information about its operations, which were to be under control in line with the law to the financial monitoring committee, said Kozlov.

    The bank also violated its own rules of internal control, requirements for identification of the bank's clients and analysis of their operations, added Kozlov.

    He also said that according to the prosecutor's office of Tatarstan, in 2003 the bank transferred and cashed money for criminal purposes, which were a ransom for two kidnapped leaders of the KAMAZ company. On March 9, 2004 this information was forwarded from the Tatar prosecutor's office to the Russian Central Bank, said Kozlov.

    According to him, Sodbiznesbank operations also involved violations posing a serious threat to its creditors and depositors. Kozlov continued that the bank's capital was mostly fictitious, i.e. used inappropriate assets.

    The Central Bank has serious doubts about the quality and assessment of the bank's credit portfolio, said Kozlov.

    According to the deputy chairman of the Central Bank, the bank conducted many operations, which were economically dubious and which are traditionally used for VAT and other tax evasion, and also capital flight, cashing and laundering money of contradictory origin.

    In particular, at issue is the withdrawal of foreign currency from the bank accounts by non-resident natural persons, with its volume reaching $390 million. Besides, payments for non-resident legal entities for the import of services in 2003 were made to the tune of $752 million, which made about 9% of the total payments of the kind effected by Russian banks within a year. For comparison, the share of Sodbiznesbank makes at least 0.15%.

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