Russian state-owned VTB Bank Georgia has offloaded its consumer loans and deposits portfolio to China-linked Basisbank after ending up in the list of financial institutions targeted by the West over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The National Bank of Georgia said yesterday the transition process had already begun and gradually from February 28, Basisbank would begin to serve the individual customers in VTB Bank Georgia branches.
The central bank reaffirmed its compliance with sanctions imposed on Russia, stressing it had instructed the financial institutions to adhere to the rules.
In a separate statement, the NBG also refuted “disinformation” spread by Russian media outlets that the Georgian central bank would not restrict the activities of the VTB Bank, which is no longer allowed to carry out transactions in USD, Euro and other foreign currencies.
“National Bank of Georgia is acting in accordance with the international resolutions and standards and cannot and will not help [in] evading implementing these sanctions,” the statement highlighted.
The development comes after the NBG vowed in a February 25 statement — amended since — that it stood ready to provide financial resources to the VTB Bank Georgia in case of liquidity troubles.
Following public outcry, the central bank took down the press release and issued an updated version that said the NBG was ready to “protect the depositors’ interests by using instruments envisaged by international standards and [Georgian] legislation.”
Basisbank is a Georgia-based company, established in 1993. Chinese Hualing Group has held a controlling interest in the bank since 2012. Hualing Group on its part has operated in Georgia since 2007 and operates in real-estate, accommodation sectors, among others.