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G7 and EU countries to target banks that help Russia evade sanctions

Group of Seven nations and the European Union are studying ways to tighten the screws on banks that help Moscow evade sanctions.

The discussed measures will target banks in third countries that use the Financial Messaging System of the Bank of Russia (SPFS), an analogue of the international SWIFT system, Bloomberg reports, citing sources.

The measures are being discussed ahead of the June G7 summit in Italy, participants of which will discuss steps to better advance sanctions imposed on Russia over its invasion of Ukraine.

«G7 has long made it a priority to prevent Russia from obtaining key technologies used in weapons or necessary for their production. However, Moscow has managed to circumvent many of these restrictions by importing prohibited goods through third countries such as China, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates and Central Asian states,» the media outlet reports.

Attention has been recently focused on banks that allegedly helped with transactions during such purchases, the news agency’s sources said. According to these data, the frequency of use of SPFS in 2023 tripled compared to 2020, more than 150 foreign banks in 20 countries work with it, including China, Belarus, Armenia, Tajikistan and Kazakhstan.

It is worth emphasizing that 557 financial institutions are connected to the Russian analogue of SWIFT, of which 159 are non-residents from 20 different countries.