Turkish banks raided in Russia over ‘money laundering’ claims

Turkish banks raided in Russia over ‘money laundering’ claims

Hülya Güler - ISTANBUL
Turkish banks raided in Russia over ‘money laundering’ claims

A file picture taken on December 6, 2006 shows cars passing by the headquarters of the FSB security service, the successor to the KGB, in central Moscow. AFP Photo

Four Turkish banks in Russia were raided by agents from Russia’s Federal Security Forces (FSB) to investigate “suspicions of money laundering” on Dec. 17, according to sources.

The diplomatic crisis between Russia and Turkey over the latter’s downing of a Russian jet on Nov. 24 has seen Moscow impose a raft of economic and trade sanctions against Turkey, but these sanctions have not covered banking activities up to now.

It is now reported that four Turkish banks were raided by FSB agents in Russia on Dec. 17, with sources confirming that the FSB’s financial experts have investigated a number of files in the Turkish banks’ branches over “money laundering” claims. 

Sources say inspectors did not find anything illegal during the investigations.

Turkey’s state-run Ziraat Bank has a branch in Russia, while private banks Garanti Bank, İş Bank, Fiba Bank and Yapı Kredi are also active in the Russian market. 

Denizbank is owned by Sberbank, Russia’s largest bank in assets. 

“The aim is to disturb Turkish banks and businessmen,” said one banking source. “By using money laundering claims, Russian authorities create trouble for these banks.”

Another source who knows the Russian market claimed that the FSB agents also probed a number of Russian banks. 

In addition to four Turkish banks, 20 Russian banks were also raided to investigate money laundering suspicions about a Turkish businessman, though no illegal transactions were found in the Russian banks.