Ukraine agent claims OECD ECAs complicit in Russian war crimes

(Bloomberg, London, 23 August 2022) Through their little-known trade finance agencies, Germany, Italy and France have been among the biggest backers of Russian oil, gas and petrochemical development in the last several years, helping to enrich and insulate the country as it prepared to invade Ukraine. Since Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014 through late 2021, German, Italian and French export-credit agencies guaranteed almost $13 billion in financing for projects in Russia, according to exclusive data compiled by the Global Strategic Communications Council, a nonprofit, worldwide network of climate experts. German and Italian state-owned banks lent a further $425 million. Many of the projects that received funding have ties to sanctioned individuals, including Leonid Mikhelson, Russia’s second-richest person, and Gennady Timchenko, a close associate of Vladimir Putin. Germany and Italy arranged $4 billion in guarantees tied to Russia’s largest natural-gas processing plant, run by Gazprom PJSC, which was sanctioned in February. The five institutions — Euler Hermes, SACE, Bpifrance Assurance Export, KfW-IPEX Bank and Cassa Depositi e Prestititi — told Bloomberg they stopped new cover for or loans to Russian projects after the invasion of Ukraine, and said they were in compliance with applicable sanctions. Many export-credit agencies operate without much public scrutiny. They typically provide credit guarantees, loans and insurance to domestic companies doing business in riskier parts of the world. French, Italian and German firms probably would have stayed out of Russia over the past decade without that backing, said Marcos Alvarez, head of insurance for global financial institutions at DBRS Morningstar, a credit-ratings agency. “These public finance institutions have made their governments complicit in Putin’s war crimes, filling Russia’s war chest and helping the Kremlin secure new export routes for its blood oil and gas,” Oleg Ustenko, Ukraine’s chief economic adviser said.