Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy speaks during a joint press conference with Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei July 25, 2022 in Kyiv, Ukraine.
Alexei Furman | Getty Images
Major US and European banks should be prosecuted for “committing war crimes” for financing trade with the Russian regime, according to a senior official of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.
Oleg Ustenko, Zelenskyy’s economic adviser, said the Ukrainian government believed banks such as JPMorgan, HSBC and Citi were helping the Kremlin’s war efforts in Ukraine by funding companies that trade oil with Russia.
“Everyone who is financing these war criminals, who is doing these terrible things in Ukraine, is also committing war crimes in our logic,” he told CNBC’s Hadley Gamble on “Capital Connection” on Tuesday.
JPMorgan, HSBC and Citi did not immediately respond to CNBC’s request for comment on the allegations.
When asked directly if he wanted these banks to be prosecuted for war crimes, Ustenko replied: “Exactly.”
Ustenko said Zelenskyy believes these banks should be held responsible for prolonging the conflict and the war against Ukraine.
His comments came in response to an FT report last week, which said the Ukrainian government had written to heads of US and European banks – such as JPMorgan’s Jamie Dimon and HSBC’s Noel Quinn – urging them to cut ties with banks. negotiating groups. Russian oil.
In letters seen by the FT, Ustenko wrote to bankers asking them to halt funding for companies that trade in Russian oil and sell shares in Gazprom and Rosneft, two of Russia’s state-backed oil and gas companies.
According to the FT, the letters accused Citigroup and Credit Agricole of “prolonging” the war by financing companies that ship Russian oil. The letters also reportedly warned that banks would not be allowed to participate in Ukraine’s reconstruction after the war ended.
CNBC did not immediately receive a response from Credit Agricole when asked about the allegations.
The Ukrainian government is gathering all the evidence to send to the International Criminal Court, Ustenko told CNBC.
“We collect all this information” in terms of companies that fund Russia, he said. “Our Ministry of Justice and our Security Service of Ukraine are collecting. And then later it will be forwarded to the ICC,” he added.
This is not the first time that Ukraine has sued Western companies for having business relations with Russia.
In March, the government sharply criticized major oil companies for continuing to do business with Russia, and warned that some of those companies could end up on the wrong side of history.
Ustenko said the war had taken a heavy toll on Ukraine’s economy since the Russian invasion began on Feb. 24.
“Currently, we expect the Ukrainian economy to show a decline of around 35-40%, which is a huge decline,” he said.
He said the decline was due to the fact that almost 50% of businesses “are not currently operational or are unable to operate at full capacity”.
“When the economy declines, budget revenues decline. Again, the reason is the Russian invasion,” he added.