MOSCOW : Russian private lender Sovcombank is planning a legal challenge to sanctions imposed against it over the conflict in Ukraine and will start with Japan, where the bank has shareholders, a source familiar with the matter told Reuters.
Sovcombank, one of Russia’s 13 official “systemically important credit institutions”, was placed under Western sanctions in response to Moscow sending its armed forces into Ukraine in February 2022. This crippled its access to certain markets and created headaches for bondholders.
Sovcombank no longer reveals details of its shareholder structure, but data published before february 2022 showed foreign investors, including some from Japan, and top Russian bank executives among stakeholders.
“Actions for challenging the sanctions introduced against the bank by Japan are under way,” the source, who declined to be named, told Reuters, stating that the sanctions had been imposed illegally.
Japan’s foreign ministry on Feb. 28 denied Sovcombank permission to appeal against the sanctions, the source said, so Sovcombank has now hired local Japanese lawyers through a Russian law firm to represent it and intends to appeal against the ministry’s decision.
“The Japanese Foreign Ministry is refusing on the formal ground that a three-month deadline to appeal was missed, despite the notice being posted … in Japanese only,” the source said.
Sovcombank’s press office, the Japanese foreign ministry and Japan’s embassy in Moscow did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Sovcombank also plans to apply for a licence to unblock funds held in Japanese banks’ correspondent accounts, the source added.