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US banks ask Washington for Russia sanctions workaround: Report

A view of the US Treasury Building in Washington, DC. (Reuters file photo)

More than a dozen major US banks and asset managers have asked the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) for important concessions for Russia sanctions.

Bloomberg reported on Friday that 13 banks and asset managers asked the OFAC to temporarily allow trading in credit default swaps (CDS) on Russian government bonds.

The US slapped sanctions on Russian banks, banning investments in the country over the latter's military operation in Ukraine.

Citing people familiar with the situation, the US banks asked OFAC to open a window to allow investors who wagered on Moscow defaulting to be paid what they’re owed, to trade their bonds.

The Credit Derivatives Determinations Committee (CDDC), which regulates the credit derivative swap market, ruled that Russia missed an interest payment.

Missing the $1.9 million interest payment triggered an insurance payout

Russia's payout of $1.5 billion for failure-to-pay is at stake for US investors.

Earlier this month, the OFAC imposed a ban on purchases of Russian securities in the secondary market, making it difficult for US financial institutions to conduct transactions with CDS on Russian government bonds.

The CDDC is in negotiation with the OFAC and a final decision may come after the Group-of-Seven (G-7) summit concludes this weekend, media reported citing sources familiar with the flow of events.

“The first scenario is that CDDC appeals to OFAC for an extension and a ‘one day only’ pass so that we can hold an auction and properly settle the CDS at the right price,” Jochen Felsenheimer, a managing director at XAIA Investment in Munich, told Bloomberg.

“I believe this is being discussed currently but it will take time to pass,” he added.

The OFAC bars investors from buying Russian debt.

Russia's finance ministry said Moscow will settle all its debts in order to defend its reputation as a reliable borrower.

In the meantime, Russian President Vladimir Putin has blamed the US and its European NATO allies for the crisis in Ukraine, triggering inflation in Europe and the United States, saying the crisis is a direct result of "irresponsible actions" by the G7 countries, and not Russia's military operation in Ukraine.

Russia launched the military offensive against Ukraine on February 24. Days after Russia's attack, Ukraine applied to join the EU.

The Kremlin has warned NATO against its expansionist policy, insisting that granting Kiev EU membership would be only fanning the flames of war.



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