15 Jan 2020
A group of Nordic banks that had been sued by a Russian oligarch aren’t required to accept his business, in what may prove to be a landmark ruling by a court in Finland.
Russian billionaire Boris Rotenberg, an associate of President Vladimir Putin, lost his lawsuit against four Nordic banks and was ordered to pay more than 500,000 euros ($556,000) to cover their legal fees, the Helsinki District Court ruled on Monday.
Rotenberg’s lawsuit targeted Svenska Handelsbanken AB for refusing to accept his cross-border deposits, and Nordea Bank Abp, OP Group and Danske Bank A/S for not processing his payments to vendors for basics including electricity bills.
Jakob Dedenroth Bernhoft, a Copenhagen-based lawyer who specializes in compliance and money laundering issues, said the decision would set an important precedent.
“All the other banks will look at this decision from the court for guidance on what to do in a similar situation,” Bernhoft said by phone before the verdict was delivered.
At stake was the banks’ access to the U.S. dollar market, which is crucial to their ability to operate.
The court’s panel of judges ruled unanimously, but the verdict can still be appealed. Rotenberg has seven days to voice to his dissatisfaction with the decision.
“This is a complex matter and we appreciate the clarity that the District Court has provided,” Nordea said by email.
Handelsbanken spokeswoman Pirjetta Soikkeli said, “This is an important ruling in line with Handelsbanken’s view,” but didn’t comment further. OP said it is reviewing the decision, but also declined to say more.
By Kati Pohjanpalo and Leo Laikola, Bloomberg, 13 January 2020
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