Russian justice has ordered the seizure of hundreds of millions of euros of assets of the Italian bank UniCredit and the German bank Deutsche Bank in Russia, at the request of a Russian gas company, we officially learned on Saturday . The arbitration court in St. Petersburg (northwest) ordered the seizure of real estate, securities and accounts belonging to the second largest Italian bank UniCredit, in Russia, in the amount of 462.7 million euros, according to a decision taken on May 16 by this judicial body and available on its official website.

A similar decision was taken the same day against Deutsche Bank, Germany’s number one bank, with the St. Petersburg Arbitration Court ordering the seizure of its real estate, securities and accounts for an amount of 238.6 millions of euros. Both decisions were taken at the request of the Russian company RusChemAlliance, according to the same source.

Co-founded in particular by the Russian gas giant Gazprom to build a major gas processing and liquefaction plant in Ust-Luga, near Saint Petersburg, the company saw its partner – the German company Linde, supposed to deliver equipment for construction – withdraw from the project after the launch of the Russian offensive in Ukraine in 2022 and the implementation of Western sanctions against Moscow. UniCredit and Deutsche Bank, which were guarantor banks for this project, were also unable to fulfill their obligations to RusChemAlliance due to the sanctions.

In summer 2023, the Russian company filed a complaint with the St. Petersburg arbitration court demanding that the two banks pay it hundreds of millions of euros from their bank guarantees provided for in their commitments. “We will have to see how this request is implemented by the Russian courts and assess the immediate operational impact in Russia,” Deutsche Bank responded in a statement.

For its part, UniCredit said it was “aware of the Russian court’s decision” and assured it was “examining the situation in detail”. UniCredit, which is among the European banks most exposed to Russia, began “preliminary” discussions in May 2022 with a view to a possible sale of its Russian subsidiary, but the project seems to have stalled since. The Italian bank has been present in Russia since 2005.