17 January 2018, Wednesday, 22:56

Belarusian tour operators to decline services of Russian banks

Tour operators cannot transfer money to their partners abroad through the banks with Russian capital which are represented in Belarus.

Thus, a payment in dollars through “Belvneshekonombank” (BelVEB) of one of major Belarusian tour operators was suspended for a whole week. It is referred to a few payments through a US correspondent account of a few dozen thousand dollars. The money “got stuck”, and to a request to explain the situation, employees of the bank told in an unofficial conversation that it happened due to “recent events” (the sanctions imposed by the European Union and the US on a number of Russian structures are meant), “Turizm i otdykh” reports.

As said by the tour operator, the bank promises to deal with the problem, however hinting that as required, the money had been transferred to the US bank, so the bank has completed its part of the operation, and meanwhile offers to transfer the money abroad once again through other correspondent bank accounts. The situation is aggravated by the fact that in the peak season the travel company cannot wait – foreign partners can refuse accommodating tourists, when money for them had not been received. Tour operators panic about prospects to pay the second time.

At the same time, according to the official information, announced by a deputy chairman of BelVEB Andrei Ramanenka in a phone conversation, the suspension could not be related to the sanctions in any way. There are a number of reasons for that. Firstly, the sanctions in no way concern payments, they are related to offering foreign resources and loans to relevant banks only. And secondly, Belarusian banks with Russian capital had never received such loans, so there is no possibility to relate actions of the US bank with the sanctions problems. As said by Andrei Ramanenka, delay in payments through US correspondent accounts are not rare, as the US banks often carry out inspections of firms which make payments. Though these delays last 1-2 days only, in this case several payments had been frozen for a week already.

“Such thinks had never happened,” a representative of the travel company said. “In the future we are going to choose banks without Russian assets to be on the safe side!”

We remind that in addition to BelVEB, two other Russian banks under sanctions work in Belarus, Gazprombank and VTB.

It is quite possible that the Belarusian tourism business has become a hostage of indirect, not articulated, but really existing results of the sanctions. In this case a worker of a US bank could see the name of the blacklisted Russian bank, and freeze payments, send for further examination and so on, being directed by these secondary consequences.