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    WHAT IS THE RUSSIAN BANKING SYSTEM FACING IN 2005?

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    MOSCOW, December 28 (RIA Novosti) - The majority of bankers believe that the Russian banking system will not be affected by any major crises similar to the one that occurred this summer. At the same time, the attempts of Russian bankers to create some sort of a credit pool to help banks affected by unfavorable situations on the market have been unsuccessful so far, Novye Izvestia writes.

    The majority of experts agree that the system of deposit insurance (DIS), which comes into effect in 2005, must protect Russian banks from possible problems. The Central Bank is currently checking the financial situation in all banks to decide by the end of March 2005 which banks can be admitted to the system. The problem is that the Central Bank's "white list" is published every week, according to results of every inspection, but a comprehensive "black list" will only be made public in spring. The banks on the latter will not be allowed to work with private citizens' deposits.

    "This is going to be the tensest moment for clients," believes the head of analytical services at Finmarket, Andrei Lusnikov. "A bank can appeal against the decision made by the Central Bank, but customers might start withdrawing their money by that time. According to the Central Bank's estimates, approximately 20% of Russian banks might be put on the black list."

    Another possible risk in 2005, and bankers try to avoid mentioning the subject, is increased pressure on the banks applied by state inspectors and auditors. Using the fight against terrorism and money laundering as an excuse, financial intelligence structures are demanding the disclosure of more and more confidential information from the banks.

    According to experts, Russia might face an unprecedented inflow of foreign banks caused by the country's future accession to the WTO. Many analysts fear that Russian banks will not be able to compete with their foreign rivals for a place on the Russian financial market. In contrast, the increased competition on the market might benefit private clients because bankers might be forced to increase interest rates on deposits and cut interest rates on loans as part of efforts to win customers.

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