UN opens Russian bank account to enable rouble transactions, says Russia’s Sovcombank

MOSCOW (Reuters) – The United Nations has opened a bank account with a non-sanctioned Russian lender to allow for transactions in roubles, Russia’s Sovcombank said on Monday.

The name of the bank was not specified.

Sovcombank, one of Russia’s 13 “systemically important” credit institutions, has applied to the U.S. Treasury for a licence to make membership payments to a U.N. climate funding programme while its activities are blocked by U.S. sanctions.

The U.N. did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

In 2022, the U.S. Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) placed Sovcombank on its Specially Designated Nationals (SDN) list, effectively kicking it out of the U.S. financial system, banning trade with Americans and freezing its U.S. assets.

But the bank is now seeking a licence to pay membership fees for the United Nations Environment Programme Finance Initiative, testing the waters in Washington for special exemptions for certain transactions by Russian banks.

Sovcombank said its OFAC licence application was still pending and that the U.N. account had been opened in the interim.

(Reporting by Elena Fabrichnaya; Writing by Alexander Marrow; Editing by Jan Harvey)