The “Gazprombank” platform has just obtained the green light from Switzerland to offer its various services related to cryptos. In particular, it will be possible to buy, sell or negotiate bitcoins, via this company on Swiss territory.
Gazprombank is the Swiss subsidiary of one of the main banks in Russia. This private bank has been offering its services since 1990 to individuals and businesses. It operates mainly in Europe, through Russia, Belarus, and now Switzerland.
Last Thursday, the FINMA (Federal Financial Market Supervisory Authority) issued an accreditation intended to validate Gazprombank. With this authorization, the bank will begin to offer a cryptocurrency “custody” service, as well as an exchange service to buy and sell cryptocurrencies, against fiats currencies. These services will also be available only to a limited number of clients, chosen after a “rigorous evaluation process”. Subsequently, the firm plans to gradually expand its offering to include other cryptocurrencies and advantageous financial products.
A false good idea?
If today Gazprombank is viewed favorably by FINMA, this has not always been the case. Between 2006 and 2016, the bank was indeed accused of having violated several standards in terms of compliance. Indeed, the investigations against the establishment showed that “Gazprombank Suisse had seriously violated the due diligence obligations required by the law on money laundering”, then indicated the FINMA.
Since the 2000s, Russian banks have evolved in terms of compliance, governance, and financial solvency (Basel II). The current momentum is in favor of private banking and cryptocurrencies, which offer competitive interest rates. Management banks have indeed emerged in Moscow, and they are now trying to conquer a share of wealth management abroad.
This strategy may nevertheless seem risky when you know the liabilities of Russian banks in Europe and Switzerland. On February 28, three leaders of the National Bank Trust (of Russian origin) were indicted for massive fraud, in the United Kingdom and in Switzerland. They are indeed accused of having siphoned off 68 million dollars via a sophisticated assembly later called “laundering machine”.
After various sandals, Gazprombank is in the process of establishing itself in Switzerland, as well as in Europe, eventually. The proposed offer is currently under the control of the regulatory authorities. Indeed, only a small part of customers will be able to benefit from these new services.