Receive free War in Ukraine updates
We’ll send you a myFT Daily Digest email rounding up the latest War in Ukraine news every morning.
A Russian court has frozen about $36mn worth of Goldman Sachs’ assets in the country after state-owned bank Otkritie, which is under western sanctions, filed a lawsuit against the US bank.
Otkritie accused Goldman of refusing to fulfil Rbs615mn ($6.4mn) of debt obligations under derivatives agreements between the two banks. According to court documents published earlier this month, Goldman had pointed to the sanctions imposed against the Russian bank by the US and other western countries for not being able to settle the debt.
Otkritie claimed that Goldman Sachs wanted to leave Russia, which would make debt collection impossible, and requested that the court temporarily seize the US bank’s assets until the case was resolved. Goldman on Monday declined to comment on the court’s decision.
The temporarily frozen assets include a 5 per cent stake worth $27mn, based on the latest share price, in Russia’s largest children’s goods retailer Detsky Mir, which means “children’s world”. Goldman was a bookrunner for the company’s listing in Moscow in 2017.
The document showed that the court ordered the temporary seizure of smaller stakes in other Russian companies owned by a Luxembourg-registered Goldman Sachs III SICAV fund.
These assets include shares in leading Russian lenders Sberbank and VTB, which now owns Otkritie, as well as Gazprom, Lukoil, Russia’s largest airline Aeroflot — all under sanctions from the west — and one of the country’s top retailers, Magnit.
The Goldman fund had written down the price of these assets to zero, according to its 2022 annual report. However, based on the companies’ latest share price, their market value exceeds $9.3mn.
The US bank had announced plans in March 2022 to close down its businesses in Russia, where it had had a presence since 1998, soon after Moscow ordered a full invasion of Ukraine but has yet to complete the wind-down.
Hopes for a swift exit were shattered when Vladimir Putin last year said foreign owners from “unfriendly” countries could not complete deals without his approval. The list of affected companies included 45 banks with subsidiaries in Russia.