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Russia’s VTB Bank dropped by U.S. lobbying firm after latest round of sanctions

VTB Bank signs at the ExpoForum Convention and Exhibition Centre, St. Petersburg International Economic Forum, in St Petersburg, Russia.
Sefa Karacan | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

VTB Bank lost their top U.S. lobbyists after President Joe Biden’s latest round of sanctions on the massive Russian financial institution.

Sidley Austin, one of the most powerful lobbying firms in Washington D.C., told CNBC on Friday that it is no longer representing the bank after picking it up as a client in 2015. The bank was sanctioned by Biden’s Treasury Department following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine this week.

“VTB Group is no longer a client of Sidley Austin LLP in compliance with U.S. sanctions,” a spokesman said in an email. The firm continued to represent the company with the U.S. government after it was initially sanctioned in 2014 post Russia’s invasion and annexation of Crimea, a region within Ukraine.

Losing Sidley Austin’s representation signals the loss of a powerful VTB ally in Washington that could have lobbied the U.S. government for the firm following the latest sanctions. Forbes says the bank’s market cap, as of last year, was over $8 billion.

The most recent of sanctions by the U.S. also took aim at executives with ties to VTB, including high-ranking officials Andrey Sergeyevich Puchkov and Yuriy Alekseyevich Soloviev, according to the Treasury Department.

The Center for Public Integrity previously reported that Sidley Austin’s team of lobbyists engaged with those working in the U.S. State Department and members of Congress when they initially represented the bank.

A representative for VTB Bank could not be contacted for comment as its website failed to load when trying to reach the firm.

VTB did respond to the U.S. sanctions in a statement on Thursday.

“VTB is one of the backbone banks of the Russian Federation with a broad international presence and a stable financial position. Sanctions have been a reality for us over the past few years, and another round of politically motivated anti-Russian sanctions came as no surprise,” a representative said at the time.

“VTB has been and remains a reliable partner for millions of customers, investors and shareholders,” the statement read.

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