OTTAWA/LONDON, Sept 18 (Reuters) - Canada, one of the harshest critics of Russia’s involvement in Ukraine, this week quietly cancelled sanctions against Expobank and RosEnergoBank, two small Russian banks on which it imposed the measures earlier this year.
The cancellations were put into effect at the same time as new sanctions were announced by Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird on Tuesday, including adding Russia’s Sberbank to the list, but his news release made no mention of lifting the measures against Expobank and RosEnergoBank.
Expobank, which ranks as about the 100th biggest Russian bank by assets, has always disputed its inclusion on the sanctions list and had appealed to be taken off.
“We were sure that the inclusion of Expobank on this list was a misunderstanding and a mistake. We are glad that this issue has been resolved successfully and quickly and that this issue has been removed from the agenda,” Kirill Nifontov, chief executive of Expobank, said in a statement.
RosEnergoBank had income of $4.24 million in 2012 and assets of $1.01 billion, according to Moody’s Investors Service.
Canada said in April it had imposed the sanctions on the two Russian banks and nine individuals and would keep pressure on Moscow, “until Russia clearly demonstrates its respect for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity”.
Baird’s office had no immediate comment.
The lifting of the sanctions is mentioned obliquely in amendments to the Russian “Special Economics Measures (Russia) Regulations” on the Canadian Foreign Affairs Department website, referring only to the repealing of “Items 2 and 3” on a particular part of the list. (Reporting by Randall Palmer in Ottawa and Steve Slater in London; Editing by Keiron Henderson; and Peter Galloway)