Deutsche Bank is considering closing its Russian investment banking activities in response to an investigation into potential money-laundering for Moscow clients.
John Cryan, the new co-chief executive of Germany’s biggest bank, is expected to make deep cuts in its Russian operations, which are among the largest of any foreign bank, said people familiar with the matter.
Deutsche is being investigated by UK, US and German regulators over whether its Russian equities operation breached anti money-laundering laws in the country.
The likely pullback from Russia — first reported by WirtschaftsWoche — could involve about 200 job losses. It would mean Deutsche exiting the onshore investment banking market in Russia and only serving clients there from other countries.
Deutsche declined to comment on its plans for Russia and said: “We will update the market with further details on our strategy by the end of October.” The bank is planning thousands of job cuts in its 99,000-strong workforce.
It is expected to keep most of its global transaction banking, asset and wealth management and technology operations in Russia, which employ about 1,300 staff.
In April, the bank included a commitment to focus its “geographical footprint on key markets and cities” in a new five-year strategy it announced in April.
Mr Cryan, who replaced Anshu Jain after the new strategy was announced, is expected to discuss potential plans to exit some of the 70 countries where it operates at a supervisory board meeting to review his intentions this weekend.
In a memo to staff soon after moving from being a non-executive director to taking charge, Mr Cryan said: “Where we encounter . . . business lines that are not controlled to the standards we demand, we will exit them, even if this means closing them down.”
Deutsche was asked last year by Russia’s central bank about the trades of some Russian clients. After carrying out an internal probe into about $6bn of so-called mirror trades carried out over the past four years, the bank raised the matter with BaFin in Germany and the Financial Conduct Authority in the UK.
The trades in question involve securities bought in roubles through Deutsche in Moscow by Russian clients, at the same time the bank bought the same securities in western currencies from various entities through its London business.
New York’s banking regulator asked Deutsche for information about a failed offer to bribe a Moscow employee as part of its investigation, the Financial Times reported in July. Tim Wiswell, head of Deutsche’s Russian equities department, left the bank last month.
Deutsche has done business in Russia for more than 130 years and rapidly expanded its presence in the country with the takeover of United Financial Group in 2005. All investment banks have found business much harder in Russia since the country was hit by US and European sanctions last year over the conflict in Ukraine and the Russian economy slid into a recession as commodity prices tumbled.
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