Sberbank, Russia’s largest bank, has denied making a misleading statement about being added to the US sanctions list on Thursday.
Retail customers may be at risk of losing their funds if harsh Western sanctions are imposed as Russian armies invade Ukraine.
According to Nikolai Arefiev, a member of Russia’s Communist Party and vice-chairman of the Duma’s economic policy committee, Russians’ savings could be taken as a result of the country’s sanctions.
If Western nations decide to ban all of Russia’s foreign cash, Arefiev said in an interview with the local news agency NEWS.ru on Monday that the Russian government might collect around 60 trillion rubles ($750 billion) worth of people’s accounts.
“If all foreign money are blocked, the government will have no alternative but to seize all of the population’s deposits, or 60 trillion rubles, to address the crisis,” the official said, noting that Russia has $640 billion in gold and foreign exchange reserves stored overseas.
He also indicated that prospective sanctions on Russia include a possible severance from SWIFT and restrictions on foreign exchange.
Russian President Vladimir Putin announced a special military operation in Ukraine, potentially triggering a series of sanctions against Russia’s top banks, including state-owned Sberbank and VTB.
According to local media, Sberbank made a mistake on Thursday night when it announced that it had been added to the US sanctions list, but later deleted the notice, claiming that the announcement was erroneous and was prompted by a “website crash.”
Sberbank’s website states that the bank and all of its systems are operational as usual, and that clients and legal organisations have full access to their funds and services.
“We are prepared for any change in the circumstances and have developed scenarios to secure the safety of our clients’ monies, assets, and interests, as well as the regular functioning of all our functions,” the warning states.
“Make no mistake, we will reply firmly to these sanctions, not necessarily in a symmetrical manner, but the retaliation will be properly measured and will not fail to damage the United States,” Russia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated on Thursday.
The ministry is threatening a cyberwar with the West, according to Balaji Srinivasan, a crypto investor and former chief technical officer of Coinbase:
“Make no mistake, we will respond strongly to these sanctions, not necessarily in a symmetrical manner, but the response will be well calibrated and will not fail to affect the United States.”
— Balaji Srinivasan (@balajis) February 24, 2022
The newest news comes as the Russian ruble falls to an all-time low versus the US dollar, with indexes jumping to 115 rubles or more per US dollar for those looking to buy dollars on the open market, up 35% from 74 rubles only a few weeks ago. According to local sources, Sberbank offered its customers the opportunity to purchase dollars for 100 rubles on Thursday.
According to CoinGecko data, the new events have had a major influence on the Russian stock market and cryptocurrency markets, with Bitcoin (BTC) temporarily falling below $35,000 for the first time since June 2021. For the first time since August of last year, the total market capitalization fell below $1.7 trillion.
The big sell-offs on crypto and stock markets, according to Sam Bankman-Fried, CEO of FTX bitcoin exchange, are “to pay for war.”
Disclaimer: These are the writer’s opinions and should not be considered investment advice. Readers should do their own research.