Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan Chase are leaving Russia, becoming the first big US banks to exit the country after Western governments imposed a raft of sanctions intended to cripple the Russian economy.
“Goldman Sachs is winding down its business in Russia in compliance with regulatory and licensing requirements,” Andrea Williams, a spokesperson for the bank, said in an e-mail. “We are focused on supporting our clients across the globe in managing or closing out preexisting obligations in the market and ensuring the well-being of our people.”
The investment banking giant has about 80 employees in Russia and is arranging for the departures of those who have asked to leave, Williams said, confirming an earlier report by Bloomberg News. Some employees in Goldman’s legal and compliance divisions will remain in the country.
At the end of 2021, the New York bank had more than $700 million in exposure to Russia, linked to loans and financial products like stocks and bonds, according to a filing. Although Goldman has had a presence in Russia, its business there is a small slice of the bank’s global operations.
“None of us can fail to see this for what it is: the invasion of a sovereign state,” David Solomon, Goldman’s CEO, said in a memo to the staff Thursday. “Hundreds of thousands have been forced to flee their homes, Ukrainian cities have suffered massive destruction, and already there has been tragic loss of life. I know that this remains an extremely daunting and difficult time for many of our people.”
US and Western banks have pulled back from direct dealings in Russia since 2014, when the United States imposed penalties after President Vladimir Putin’s annexation of Crimea.
The finance-industry titans are joining those in other sectors, including McDonald’s and Coca-Cola, that have already said they’ll halt business operations in the nation as the death toll rises in Ukraine and millions of refugees flee. The moves will further isolate Russia, a nation of 144 million people and the world’s 11th-largest economy.
“Current activities are limited, including helping global clients address and close out pre-existing obligations; managing their Russian-related risk; acting as a custodian to our clients; and taking care of our employees,” JPMorgan Chase said in the statement.
Its direct exposure to Russia is small. The nation wasn’t included among the firm’s top 20 country exposures outside the United States, according to a regulatory filing last month. The bank’s head count in the country is in the low 100s, according to a person familiar with the matter.
Goldman has already been moving some of its Moscow-based staff to Dubai, responding to requests by some of its Russia staff to work from a different location.
Visa and Mastercard have also suspended their operations in Russia. Each of the credit card giants gets about 4 percent of net revenue from businesses linked to the country.
Citigroup’s roughly 3,000 workers there give it by far the largest presence of any major US bank in Russia. The company said Wednesday it’s assessing operations there. It previously announced efforts to exit its consumer business there, and is now operating it “on a more limited basis given current circumstances and obligations,” Edward Skyler, executive vice presidentof global public affairs, said in a statement.
Potential suitors for Citigroup’s retail operation in Russia are now subject to sanctions imposed by the US government, adding another obstacle to the planned sale. It said it had about $9.8 billion of loans, assets, and other exposure tied to Russia, local companies, and their counterparties, as well as to the Bank of Russia, as of the end of 2021.
Material from Bloomberg News was used in this report.