Japan to freeze assets of 4 more Russian banks

Ns News Online Desk: Ns News Online Desk:   TOKYO- The Japanese government will freeze assets held by four more Russian banks following the European Union’s latest financial sanctions against Moscow imposed in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Finance Minister Shunichi Suzuki said Thursday.

The move came a day after the EU said its members agreed to exclude seven Russian banks from a key international payment network known as SWIFT to disrupt Russian trade and money transfers. Tokyo had already decided to freeze assets held by the three other banks.

By freezing the assets of the banks subject to the EU sanctions, Japan is seeking to cooperate with other countries to ensure the effectiveness of measures to block Russia from SWIFT.

Suzuki told reporters Japan supports the EU’s decision and “will firmly implement (sanctions) with other Group of Seven members.” Japan’s restrictions will be implemented on April 2, according to the Finance Ministry.

The four banks are Russia’s second-largest bank VTB Bank, Bank Otkritie, Sovcombank and Novikombank. The banks have close relationships with the Russian government, according to the ministry.

Other than the banks, the government on Thursday froze the assets of 18 more Russian officials, seven Belarusian top officials including President Aleksandr Lukashenko and Defense Minister Viktor Khrenin, and two organizations in the country, which has served as an entry point for Moscow’s forces invading Ukraine.

The government also said it will impose stricter export control measures for Belarus.

The United States and the EU said last weekend a select number of Russian banks will be removed from SWIFT, with Prime Minister Fumio Kishida later pledging that Japan will join the punitive effort.

The EU said Wednesday the seven banks will be excluded from the network provided by the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication, headquartered in Belgium, on March 12.

SWIFT connects more than 11,000 banks, other financial institutions and corporations in more than 200 countries and territories, according to its website.

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