Austria’s Raiffeisen Bank International (RBI) made more than half of its profit last year from Russia, a market the lender says it is considering exiting after Moscow launched a total war against Ukraine.
That is a larger share than in 2021 when Russia contributed almost a third to the bank’s net profit.
In 2022, the group’s profit from Russia amounted to €2.06 billion ($2.2 billion) — four times more than in 2021 — while global profit was €3.8 billion, figures published by the bank showed.
RBI Chief Executive Office Johann Strobl stated in March 2022, that the bank was “assessing all strategic options for the future of Raiffeisenbank Russia, up to and including a carefully managed exit from Raiffeisenbank in Russia.”
Yet almost a year into the war — that claimed the lives of about 30,000 civilians, involved 6,000 missiles and kamikaze drones launched across Ukraine, and 67,000 Russian war crimes reported — RBI is “still in the analysis phase,” Strobl said last week.
The number of RBI employees in the country rose last year by 2.3% to 9,537 people, while the number of customers dropped 27% to 3.2 million. At least one of RBI’s employees was killed after being drafted to fight against Ukraine, despite the bank writing to the draft office seeking an exemption.
RBI is also granting loan deferrals to Russian soldiers, as all the Russian subsidiary banks of foreign parent financial institutions are obliged to do in accordance with the law of October 7, 2022.
It is clear that the Russian business poses a moral dilemma for RBI. “Of course it’s a moral issue, it’s not a question at all,” said Heinrich Schaller, head of Raiffeisenlandesbank Oberoesterreich, an RBI shareholder.
Yet, twelve months into the biggest war on European soil since WWII, there is still no sign of a firm decision from the company on how to address the moral issue of doing business in the aggressor state.
Responding to the B4Ukraine Coalition inquiry, RBI said the delay is due to “the complexity of the situation, including restrictive measures imposed by the Russian Federation.” Yet, other international banks like Société Générale or Goldman Sachs have successfully withdrawn.
Thereby, we call on the Board of Raiffeisen Bank International AG to face the reality: the bank’s earnings in Russia suggest that it pays ever-increasing amounts in taxes to the Russian state, indirectly contributing funding for Russia’s devastating war and atrocities in Ukraine. By requiring support for the illegal invasion and occupation of Ukraine, Russia’s legislative actions have set not just a moral choice before the company, but a heightened risk of complicity in Moscow’s war crimes in Ukraine.
We believe the right choice is clear: Raiffeisen must refuse to participate in Russia’s war — and make an immediate commitment to close down its business in the country.
If you’re a Raiffeisen Bank customer, please email your concerns to email@example.com or contact your manager.
If you are a Raiffeisen Bank investor and you are concerned about the advisability of relying on Russia for more than 50% of the bank’s profits, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
#russiazenbank #exitRussia #StopFundingTheWar