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SEB bank still active in Russia

SEB head office in Tallinn.
SEB head office in Tallinn. Source: Siim Lõvi/ERR

Swedish SEB bank still has a branch in Saint Petersburg and an active website aimed at the Russian market. The bank, which is also active in Estonia, says it is "wrapping up" its Russia operations.

SEB Group's website still lists a Russian branch. "We provide our home market corporate banking and financial institution clients with a range of services," the "SEB in Russia" section of the group's site still reads.

But additional information on the site suggests: "Under the current conditions it is not viable for SEB to maintain operations in Russia, and SEB has therefore started scaling these down. This will be done in a responsible and orderly manner and in accordance with regulatory and legal obligations."

SEB also manages a website in Russian, while it does not hold any information to suggest the bank is wrapping up its activities.

Aim to end activity

Silver Vohu, head of the marketing and communication division of SEB Estonia, told ERR that the group is in the process of ending its Russia operations completely.

"SEB maintains its Saint Petersburg office to help the few customers it has left there to exit the Russian market."

Vohu also forwarded SEB Group's official explanation. "We want to emphasize that SEB's activities in Russia are aimed squarely at supporting the subsidiaries of Nordic, German and U.K. business customers, and SEB has not pursued business activity involving local companies, organizations or individuals," it reads.

"Our loan portfolio is zero. The bank is not issuing new loans. Old loans have been repaid in full," the bank said.

Vohu said that completely pulling out of Russia is complicated by state regulations and legal processes.

"It may take a bit of time. But we have plotted a clear course toward ending Russia operations. We just want to do it by the book," he added.

The bank's representative said that SEB closed its Moscow branch in 2022.

SEB is an EU bank based on Swedish capital with its headquarters in Stockholm. The EU has approved 12 packages of sanctions against Russia concerning the banking sector.

Austrian Raiffeisen Bank's continued activities in Russia have caused arguments and criticism between Member States in terms of new sanctions.

SEB is the second largest bank in Estonia. Similarly to other commercial banks in Estonia, its services cannot be used to do business in Russia. No other bank in Estonia maintains a Russia branch.

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Editor: Aleksander Krjukov, Marcus Turovski

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