March 16, 2017 / 1:29 PM / in 7 months

Austrian bank's Russian arm to serve passport holders of Ukraine rebel regions

MOSCOW (Reuters) - The Russian arm of Austria’s Raiffeisen Bank International is preparing to offer services to people holding passports from two self-proclaimed republics in rebel-held eastern Ukraine, the head of the bank said on Thursday.

Sergei Monin told reporters the move followed consultations with Russia’s central bank but might require the consent of the parent bank.

“We posed some questions to our regulator, but in principle we are preparing to work” with clients in the self-styled Donetsk People’s Republic and Luhansk People’s Republic, Monin said.

“We are in the process of verifying the regulatory situation,” a spokeswoman for Raiffeisen Bank International said. “We act in accordance with international standards on customer identification and in the framework of the applicable local regulations and laws.”

More than 10,000 people have been killed in the past three years in the conflict between the Ukrainian government and the breakaway pro-Russian regions. Moscow recognized passports issued by Donetsk and Luhansk in February.

In an escalation of tensions, the Ukrainian government said on Wednesday it was halting all cargo shipments from rebel-held areas, and the central bank said it would impose sanctions on the Ukrainian subsidiaries of Russian state-owned banks.

Reporting by Kira Zavyalova in Moscow and Francois Murphy in Vienna; writing by Dasha Afanasieva and Jack Stubbs; Editing by Larry King

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