Ex-Congressman's Russian bank loses license over money laundering

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A regional Russian bank owned by a former U.S. congressman had its license revoked Friday for violations that included breaking rules against money laundering.

Commercial Bank of Ivanovo, in which former North Carolina Representative Charles Taylor owns an 80% stake, regularly broke anti-money-laundering regulations, misrepresented the size of its provisions and used “schemes” to artificially inflate its capital, according to a central bank statement.

Suspect Russian cash has caught up several lenders in northern Europe, with Swedbank AB’s head Birgitte Bonnesen the latest executive to lose her job over allegations her bank was involved in a $230 billion Danske Bank A/S laundering scandal. In Russia, the central bank has purged more than 40% of the country’s lenders since 2013 under Gov. Elvira Nabiullina in an attempt to clean up the financial sector and stem suspicious transactions.

Taylor, a Republican, represented North Carolina’s 11th district from 1991 to 2007. In his freshman term, together with Newt Gingrich, he was part of the so-called Gang of Seven that investigated a House banking scandal that fueled the perception of corruption in the lower chamber and helped usher in a Republican majority. He also created exchange programs and internships for Russian students during Russia’s transition from Communism.

Bank Ivanovo was Russia’s 294th-largest bank, according to the regulator. The lender’s press service declined to comment on the loss its license. Efforts to reach Taylor were unsuccessful.

Bloomberg News