Ukraine temporarily removes Hungarian OTP Bank from list of companies supporting the war

September 30. 2023. – 09:06 AM



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OTP Bank has been temporarily removed from the Ukrainian list of "international supporters" of the war, Portfolio reports. The decision was made by the National Agency for the Prevention of Corruption (NAZK) in Kyiv on Friday, but they added that further steps are needed before OTP can be permanently removed from the list.

The NAZK also suspended the status of five Greek shipping companies previously included on the list. The decision was the result of negotiations "between the agency and representatives of the companies and governments of these countries".

The OTP Bank Group was placed on the list of the Ukrainian anti-corruption agency back in May, as the financial institution was believed to be cooperating with Russia. OTP then issued a statement saying that this was unjustified, and that there must be a misunderstanding. They also added that they were trying to convince the Ukrainian authorities of this.

However, Hungarian Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó was also triggered by the news, and he made the matter a political weapon. He said that the government would "find it very difficult" to negotiate about sanctions requiring further sacrifices as long as OTP was on the list, and at the end of August he underlined this by saying that

Hungary is not even willing to discuss further EU funding for arms supplies to Ukraine, until Kyiv removes OTP from the list of international sponsors of the war.

Although several Western European companies, including Austria's Raiffeisen Bank International, the British-Dutch Unilever and France's Leroy Merlin are also on the list, their governments have not demanded that they be taken off the list.

The Ukrainians hope that this move will be seen as a gesture by the Hungarian government and they will stop blocking the €500 million in EU military aid that is vital for Kyiv. Of course, how the Orbán government will react to this is open to question, since if it were to unblock the EU funds, it would implicitly be supporting arms transfers and the continuation of the war.

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