International payment systems Visa and MasterCard on Friday, March 21, halted operations with bankcards issued by SMP Bank, founded by Russian billionaires Arkadiy and Boris Rotenbergs who have been hit by U.S.sanctions following the Ukraine crisis, reports Novosti.
All other banking operations, including deposit withdrawals and bank payments, proceed as usual, the bank said in a statement, adding that its correspondent accounts abroad were functioning as per normal and the bank had not been informed about any interruptions in its lines of credit.
The United States on Thursday expanded its sanctions against Russia, and SMP Bank co-owners Arkadiy and Boris Rotenbergs were also hit by the sanctions.
SMP Bank holds a controlling interest in Latvia's SMP Bank, where both Rotenbergs are members of the council.
However, bankcards issued by the Latvian branch of SMP Bank are not affected by the U.S. move, SMP Bank board member Maija Treija said.
The Latvian SMP Bank is an independent bank that operates pursuant to the rules and regulations of the European Union, and it is not a branch of Russia's SMP Bank. Therefore, the decision by Visa and MasterCard to block the operations with bank cards issued by Russia's SMP Bank have no effect on the Latvian bank, stressed Treija.
SMP Bank honors all obligations to its customers, said Treija.
The Latvian SMP Bank also has a branch in Lithuania.